AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - On this Memorial Day weekend, every military service member buried in the Texas State Cemetery was honored by having an American flag placed on their grave.
“All veterans in my eyes signed a blank check saying we will give our lives in defense for freedom but there the ones that actually had to cash that check, today is about honoring those,” Army veteran Jeremy Brooks said.
Brooks served for six years, spending a year in Iraq, and says he was one of the lucky ones who returned.
“While you’re with your family being greeted coming off the plane they’re at home usually in tears because they already got their solider back but unfortunately they got their soldier back in a box,” said Brooks.
On Sunday he joined over 100 people at the Texas State Cemetery to make sure that every single soldier buried received an American flag in time for Memorial Day.
Brooks says the tradition of decorating the graves of veterans with American flags is getting harder to fulfill.
“This flag is what we fly over our trucks while we are combat. This flag represents everything we stand for,” said Brooks.
He says more than 2,000 flags were placed at the foot of each soldiers' grave.
“We have one day out of the year to remember our fallen.. families who lost them remember them every day," said Brooks.
Brooks says none of this would have been possible without the help from Preston Sharp, whose inspiration came after he visited his grandfather’s grave in California.
While paying his respects he noticed the lack of flags and flowers on the other veterans' grave sites. So he decided to make a change. He traveled across the U.S. making stops and placing flags on veterans grave sites.
One of those stops was at the Texas State Cemetery.
“I made a deal that I will continue what he started so myself and my club we keep the flags in between events and store them properly and safely and we bring them out for Veterans Day and Memorial Day every year now,” said Brooks.
Volunteers who came out say it teaches a priceless lesson.
“Just take a moment think about everyone who sacrificed their lives for us,” said Mara Salisbury.
Brooks says thanks to the community the event has continued to grow.
“It’s getting bigger each event and having all of our police and fire department, first responders EMS having all them out here with us," Brooks said. "It’s unity among the community.”
He says he will be caring on the tradition until the end.
“One day I’ll be buried somewhere and I hope somebody comes out and marks my grave remembering the sacrifices that myself and my family made,” said Brooks.
The flags will be collected on June 2nd at the Texas State Cemetery and volunteers are needed. To sign up, visit Wreaths Across America's website.