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Volunteers honor fallen veterans by placing nearly 200,000 flags at Fort Snelling National Cemetery

This is the second straight year they've placed a flag at every headstone.
A screengrab from a video in 2018.

A screengrab from a video in 2018.

Every headstone at Fort Snelling National Cemetery has an American flag next to it for Memorial Day, thanks to a local group of organizers.

The nonprofit Flags for Fort Snelling has been organizing this event since 2015. It started with just 15-20 people placing some flags the Sunday before Memorial Day - and now, for the second straight year, they've managed to put a flag next to every headstone in the national cemetery.

That's nearly 200,000 flags in all, the group says, a feat that took the help of 6,000 volunteers.

Mall of America, one of the event's supporters, posted some photos to Facebook:

The flags will remain next to the headstones until the end of the week. Depending on weather, volunteers will return to gather them between Thursday and Saturday.

Fort Snelling cemetery was established back in 1870, but it didn't become a national cemetery until 1939, according to its online history.

Flags for Fort Snelling says it formed in 2015 after learning that, for more than 30 years, no flags had been placed at the cemetery for Memorial Day. In that initial year, 15-20 volunteers placed 2,700 flags. In 2016, the group's first year as a nonprofit, they got 10,000 flags out, followed by 50,000 the next year. 

In 2018, the group reached its goal of placing a flag at each headstone, hitting the nearly 200,000 mark for the first time.

"It was an incredible sight to see the flowing sea of red, white, and blue - One we intend to see year after year as long as we have the drive to keep this tradition alive," the group's website says.

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