Veterans continue tradition of planting flags to honor fallen soldiers ahead of Memorial Day

ORLANDO, Fla. — Families and friends are getting ready to gather for Memorial Day weekend, taking an opportunity to honor the people who died fighting for our country.


Every year around the holiday, a group of local veterans create a memorial for some of those fallen servicemen and women.

Brian Shaw is an Army veteran. Six years ago, he started the tradition at Fairways Country Club, planting 660 flags representing the number of United States veterans who take their own lives every month.

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“We just wanted to bring the attention to all these young men and women, the heroes and she-roes (who) had a tough time, sometimes just one engagement, and have a tough time for the rest of their life,” Shaw said. “Let’s hope maybe next time we do this, we won’t need 660 flags.”

Memorials like the one at Fairways have been popping up all over the country, part of a national movement called Flags for Forgotten Soldiers that build awareness for veterans suffering from PTSD.

But Fairways also serves another purpose. Edwin Ramirez served in the Navy for 22 years and said the community around Fairways is filled with veterans. The flags are a way to say they will all be remembered.

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“I can’t speak for everyone else. But for me, it’s heartwarming,” Ramirez said. “I have a lot of family members, my spouse does too, that served in various wars. Some didn’t make it back.”

The flags are also planted before Labor Day.

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Joe Kepner

Joe Kepner, WFTV.com

I unloaded the U-Haul in Orlando in 2008, just in time to cover the Magic's run to the 2009 NBA Finals.

Adam Poulisse, WFTV.com

Adam Poulisse joined WFTV in November 2019.

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