American Legion Post 351 in Penn Hills seeks help to place flags |
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Michael Divittorio
Flags on the graves of servicemen at Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Penn Hills. American Legion Post 351 members have been placing the flags in preparation for Memorial Day for more than 50 years.

Volunteers are needed to help keep an American Legion’s tradition of planting flags on veterans’ graves alive.

Members of Post 351 in Penn Hills have made the trek to Mt. Carmel and Homewood cemeteries to place the nation’s symbol at the final resting place of soldiers the Saturday before Memorial Day for more than a decade.

“This is to honor those veterans who are no longer with us,” Post finance officer and former Air Force military police officer William Dudick said. “We’re doing it for Memorial Day. It’s a day to remember those who have fallen in battle or through the years who have died.”

They seek help from Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, churches, other organizations and volunteers because of decreased enrollment and increased age of its members.

The post — one of the oldest in the state — was established in 1919 in Homewood and moved to Verona Road in Penn Hills in 1967. Membership has gone from about 800 service members in the 1970s to less than 200 now.

“We had a drop in our population,” he said. “It’s difficult for us to hit both cemeteries. You can’t traipse all over a cemetery like you used to. We try to get to as many spots as possible.”

Dudick said about 20 members and 40 other volunteers participated last year, and he hopes more show up this time around.

“People on Memorial Day thank you for your service, but let’s look at the ones who are no longer here,” he said.

Those who want to join in the flag placement can meet up at the legion at 8:30 a.m. May 19 at 4491 Verona Road.

The work is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon. A lunch will be served at the post’s social hall afterward.

Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.

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