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Volunteers plant nearly 200,000 flags at Fort Snelling National Cemetery

Volunteers with Flags for Fort Snelling began their work at the crack of dawn on Sunday in advance of Memorial Day.

ST PAUL, Minn. — Inside Fort Snelling National Cemetery, 2,500 volunteers planted flags by graves this Memorial Day weekend.

For Joanne Malmstedt, she was surprised to learn several years ago this wasn't already being done ahead of the holiday.

"Many people, like myself, just assumed it was done because it was a national cemetery," she said.

Malmstedt is now the founder and president of Flags for Fort Snelling. She thought that planting flags would be a teaching moment for her kids.

"I had called the cemetery and asked can we volunteer to put flags out so my kids could see who Memorial Day is really for."

RELATED: Etched in stone and steel | Honoring the fallen at the Minnesota State Capitol

On Sunday, volunteers started their work at 5 a.m., planting what in the end will amount to just under 200,000 flags.

"We've got plenty of family members out running around, we've got kids being runners, just coming out to help do their thing," said Jeff Starr, the Local State President for Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association.

For volunteers, it's the least they can do to honor those who sacrificed the most.

"It means the utmost respect for these people that paid the ultimate sacrifice, and that's why we're here, is to remember them, to honor them, to give back what we can and also tell them 'thank you,'" Starr said.

Flags for Fort Snelling is still looking for volunteers on Friday, June 3 and Saturday, June 4 to help pick up all the flags. Click here for more info.

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