ELMIRA, N.Y. (WETM) – Community members across the Twin Tiers came together on Friday to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Almost 9,000 flags were laid at headstones at Woodlawn National Cemetery in Elmira.
Donnie Taylor, Outreach Leader at the Way Center Church and coordinator of the May 27 volunteer effort, said it was “overwhelming” to see such an outpouring of support and remembrance from the community.
“It’s just awesome to see. So many things today are being taken for granted and losing value. Just to see the day we’re living in, and this many volunteers come out from our community to honor those that sacrificed it all for us. It’s just kind of overwhelming,” Taylor said.
After the flags were laid on the graves, children at Woodlawn helped raise a new American flag in the center of the cemetery.
“This is an awesome experience,” said Elmira Kiwanis President Alison Mandel. “And also the fact that there are people here from little kids and babies, to older people shows that a lot of the stuff that shows community spirit is for everyone.”
At the flag laying, it was clear that the Memorial Day holiday is a deeply personal one for everybody there. Mandel’s father was a WWII veteran. Patrick McDonnell of Gillett, Pa. said his father was also a veteran.
Taylor, his father, and his younger brother are all veterans, and his wife’s father is buried in Woodlawn.
“I think about all my battle buddies that I’ve fought with,” Taylor said. “So there’s a lot of meaning to this holiday for my family and I, and it’s obvious just by the turnout today that there’s a lot of meaning to our community, too.”