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Residents flood to cemeteries

JOHNSBURG - American Legion member Jack Alexander grabbed a handful of small American Flags, swatting black flies with his free hand.

One-by-one he placed a flag at each grave marker of a deceased veteran at Bates Cemetery this week.

"We have to remember the veterans who have passed," Alexander said as he made his rounds.

Each year, local residents and maintenance crews make their rounds of each cemetery, cutting grass, raking and placing flags in preparation of Memorial Day - a day where the local cemetery is so important.

"I've been to grave stones from veterans from the American revolution right up to Vietnam today," Alexander said. "There is so much history and tradition in these cemeteries." Each year, the Johnsburg American Legion orders 21 dozen grave flags, officials said.

The significance of the grave markers themselves was striking to Johnsburg Highway crews who were given the task of preparing each of the four primary town cemeteries this year.

"As I mow I read the dates on the stones and try to imagine what their life was like," Johnsburg highway crewman John Moore said. "Each stone tells a different story, or at least part of someone's story."

Town highways crews spent nearly 20 hours on Bates alone, and equally as much time raking and mowing three other local cemeteries before they are showcased on Memorial Day.

"If you see a flag or marker tipped over we try to take the time to stop and pick it up," said Johnsburg highway crewman Fred Comstock. "It's hard work, but working here really makes you think about life, death and history."

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