Although the American Legion Post 561 couldn’t have its traditional Memorial Day ceremony to honor fallen Brazoria veterans, they still placed flags at their graves.

“We started placing flags every Memorial Day since our post was resurrected about seven years ago,” Commander Vance Verbeck said. “Due to social separating we are not having our traditional program this year.”

The organization comes out to recognize all veterans at four cemeteries, Vance Verbeck said.

“We are here to honor military veterans that have passed, both in wartime or by the normal way they passed,” he said. “We’re here to respect anyone that has served the country.”

Roger Shugart, Brazoria mayor and American Legion member, assisted in placing flags at graves Friday.

“I am a veteran myself, I served right out of high school,” he said. “All of these people gave time in their lives and some of them more for this country and it means so much.”

Shugart wanted to still honor the local veterans even though the annual Memorial Day presentation was canceled.

“Every year we have a Memorial Day ceremony at the Heritage Foundation,” Shugart said. “Last year we had a general that came and spoke and we usually present the flag. We’ll start up again when it’s OK to do so.”

Although residents cannot gather for the ceremony, Auxiliary member Brenda Verbeck believes there are other ways to honor the veterans.

“There’s a memorial at the Heritage Center where people can go and leave flowers,” she said. “People can come out to the cemeteries, or even post something on Facebook. Just remember them.”

Shugart’s granddaughter, Ashley Shugart, also assisted the American Legion with their volunteer efforts Friday.

“I help them out with other things but this is my first time placing flags,” Ashley Shugart said. “I want to celebrate the veterans that died for our freedom.”

The community is very supportive of the local chapter of the American Legion, Shugart said.

“People that lived during World War 2 and the Korean War and even Vietnam have a lot of respect for what we do,” he said. “This last year we built a flag retirement pit and all that was donated to us and we’re very appreciative of the folks who made that happen.”

Brazoria County has a lot of veterans, Brenda Verbeck said.

“If you come to the cemetery after we’re done you’ll see a surprising amount of flags,” Vance Verbeck said. “I don’t know the exact number of veterans in Brazoria County but it’s in the thousands, maybe tens of thousands.”

It can take several hours to disperse the almost 400 flags.

“It takes probably over half the day to flag all four cemeteries,” Brenda Verbeck said. “We don’t have a huge group, but it’s worth the time to honor our veterans.”

Addison Howell is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0148.

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