The Douglas County Veterans Office is seeking help from the public to plant 5,000 flags on veterans' graves at Superior cemeteries for Memorial Day. The office of two relies on community support to honor deceased veterans with flags.

It’s important to put flags out every year because more veterans die every year, Veterans Case Manager Carissa Skistad said.

“They gave a sacrifice, whether they actually died on the battlefield or they came home and died from those results or not,” she said. “They gave a portion of their lives to the service and to protecting our country, so this is a great time for us to then respect or honor them.”

In past years, the bulk of the work has been done by members of Richard I. Bong American Legion Post 435 and students from Superior Middle School. That changed in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with schools closed and veterans at risk from the virus.

The office’s plea for help planting flags in 2020 was met with an outpouring of community support. Participants of all ages took maps and flags and honored veterans, staying in family groups and keeping socially distant. At Greenwood Cemetery, work that typically took three hours was done in one.

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Erick Hudson, left, the Douglas County’s veterans service officer, looks at headstones of veterans as he walks with Hannah Peterson, 11, at Greenwood Cemetery on May 21, 2020. (Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram)
Erick Hudson, left, the Douglas County’s veterans service officer, looks at headstones of veterans as he walks with Hannah Peterson, 11, at Greenwood Cemetery on May 21, 2020. (Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram)

“It was fun talking with people and people just wanted to help so much. I loved that,” Skifstad said. “It was just an awesome experience.”

The group plans to plant flags May 27 at Greenwood Cemetery and May 28 at three cemeteries just off Highway 105: Riverside, Graceland and the Hebrew. Work will begin at 9 a.m. both days and continue until the planting is done.

It’s helpful if teams of two to five people sign up to work together in a group, Skifstad said, but individual volunteers are also needed. State and county COVID-19 guidelines, including social distancing, will be observed.

“We will be doing our best to make sure that we are following all the proper rules and regulations and making sure that sanitary options are there,” Skifstad said.

Those interested in volunteering are asked to register by calling 715-395-1477 or emailing veterans@douglascountywi.org.