MINNEAPOLIS - It wasn't long after dawn on Memorial Day when car loads of volunteers showed up at Fort Snelling National Cemetery with a ready supply of American flags in hand.
The group calls itself "Flags for Fort Snelling." It's mission: place 10 thousand flags at the graves of fallen soldiers.
The grass roots effort to honor service members buried in the Twin Cities started last year when the group's organizer, Joanne Malmstedt, learned cemetery staff no longer placed flags on the graves at Fort Snelling. With more than 219 thousand people buried there, the task had become too great. So Joanne rallied a group of friends and planted 2,700 flags on that Memorial Day.
A year later the group is now an official nonprofit, and the number of volunteers has grown to well over 400. The number of flags placed at graves in 2016 more than tripled the number from the year before. The group even personalized the flag placements for sixty family members of fallen soldiers, sending photos of the flag and grave to those who couldn't be there in person.
For more information on Flags for Fort Snelling, or if you wish to volunteer or to donate, go to the group's website.