Flags for Every Hero: Flagging Tradition at Woodlawn

Observed on the last Monday of May, Memorial Day is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service to our country.  Originally known as Decoration Day, the idea took root during the American Civil War when citizens placed flowers on the graves of those who had been killed in battle.  After the First World War, the day came to be observed in honor of those who had died in all U.S. wars and its name changed from Decoration Day to Memorial Day.  In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress.  On Memorial Day, Americans across the nation remember the military service members who gave their lives to protect the freedoms we cherish.

Founded in 1863, The Woodlawn Cemetery is the final resting place of more than 8,500 individuals who bravely served our nation in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Each year, to thank America’s heroes, volunteers place flags on veterans’ gravesites in the lead up to Memorial Day.  For years, Woodlawn has honored veterans by recruiting volunteers and scouts from the local community to salute America’s heroes.  A Woodlawn tradition, the yearly public event attracts hundreds of volunteers who make it a point to honor the bravest among us.

Among Woodlawn’s veterans are 11 Medal of Honor recipients, soldiers honored by local posts and parks, and representatives of every conflict from the Revolutionary War on.  One of the most famous veterans buried in the cemetery is Admiral David Farragut, the first Admiral in the U.S. Navy.  Other notable soldiers include newspaper publisher Joseph Pulitzer, who was a recruit for the Union Army during the Civil War; Bronx native Sergeant Natale Greco, whose plane was show down over Germany in World War II; and Sergeant Lincoln-Colon Perez, a Purple Heart recipient who was killed in South Vietnam.

This year, flagging will begin at 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 20 and continue through Saturday, May 27 or until all sites have been marked.  Volunteers will be given maps that pinpoint locations and a list of those who served.  A picnic lunch will be provided for volunteers who pay tribute to veterans.

To learn more about the event or to volunteer, contact Woodlawn by email at  flagging@woodlawn.org.