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Los Angeles Cemetery Honors Veterans With 170K Flags

KAREN GRIGSBY BATES: It's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Karen Grigsby Bates in for a Arun Rath. At Riverside National Cemetery an hour east of L.A., hundreds of volunteers - girl scouts, boy scouts, community groups and families - are placing small American flags by gravesites. They're preparing for Veterans Day this Tuesday. For the active service members in the crowd it's especially meaningful. Dederick Brooks is a Marine based at Camp Pendleton in California.

DEDERICK BROOKS: It really shows that, you know, people are really invested in the military past, present and future. So it means a lot just to see people come out here and support these people that paved the way for us.

GRIGSBY BATES: Most of the folks here have ties to the military, like Diane Burrows, her two daughters and their local church group.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Yeah, all of us.

DIANNE BURROWS: Her husband, three of them and my husband - their father - is a veteran.

GRIGSBY BATES: And down the winding road at a nearby plot, Susie Slaughter has a flag for her father's grave.

SUSIE SLAUGHTER: It's right over here. It's number 278.

GRIGSBY BATES: Her dad was a World War II veteran.

SLAUGHTER: Oh, here we go. Yeah, this is very personal for me. I was trying not to get emotional today. But now I am. He had a rough time during World War II and he never spoke about it very much - pretty stoic individual.

GRIGSBY BATES: She says she feels close to him out here. She's now standing in the middle of a sea of flags. Carlos Rebollo of Riverside doesn't come from a military background. He's just here to be part of this.

CARLOS REBOLLO: What I do is I, you know, I read the names and, you know, the year they were born and the year they died. It's kind of emotional, you know, even though you don't know the person. You figure there's a human being under here that went to war.

GRIGSBY BATES: He's with his wife and two children.

REBOLLO: I brought my kids so they know what it's all about. And hopefully, once they grow up, they'll show their kids, too.

GRIGSBY BATES: In just over an hour, the job is done - American flags placed beside some 170,000 gravesites. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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