Sitting atop a sprawling hill on the edge of town, the historic Monongahela Cemetery serves as the final resting place for more than 4,200 veterans.
On a beautiful, sunny May evening, members of two church congregations span the cemetery’s grounds, placing flags to honor every one of those veterans.
It is a tradition begun by the Frank Downer American Legion Post 302 in Monongahela more than 40 years ago.
But for the past four years, parishioners from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Carroll Township have taken over the task. Last year, the Uniontown congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints joined the effort.
“The kids do a great job getting the flags up in short order,” said Stu Isaac, adjutant of American Legion Post 302 in Monongahela.
“This is one of my favorite projects.”
Isaac’s grandfather and great-grandfather, William Isaac and Aaron Isaac, were superintendents of the cemetery for a combined 72 years.
“It’s encouraging to see the young generation lending a hand,” Isaac said. “Rain or shine, they are here. Last November, it was raining all day and they were here retrieving the flags.
“It warms the heart to see the young generation being involved. A lot of the parents come up with the kids. It’s a wonderful family outing, especially on a beautiful day like today.”
The Monongahela Cemetery was opened in 1863, during the Civil War. It is the central point for Memorial Day services in the city each May.
Scott Frederick, a member of the cemetery board, brought his fellow parishioners, especially the youth, to the cemetery. Fifty-four of the 68 volunteers were from the two churches.
Frederick said the legion approached him, seeking help because “they had trouble getting all of the flags up.”
“The kids have great respect, and they are actually honored to do it,” Frederick said. “Some of them have family members buried here, so it takes on special meaning for them.”
West Martin of Bentleyville volunteered for his third year. He sees it as a chance to recognize the men and women who served.
“It’s a pretty cool site,” Martin said. “Some of these graves are more than 10 years old.”
Alec Lima, a sophomore at Brownsville Area High School, was also volunteering for the third year.
Lima said as he places the flags on the graves, looks at the names and dates and envisions what they went through.
Lima helped place flags in a section of the cemetery near a wall erected by Post 60 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Monongahela in honor of Civil War veterans. Atop the wall is a canon seemingly standing guard.
“I was standing at the canon and looking at the flags,” said Lima. “How great it is to be an American? It’s so patriotic. I look at all of these veterans who served to keep our country safe.”