Centralia Cemetery hosts the Avenue of Flags for Memorial Day

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CENTRALIA - There will be a Memorial Day service at the Centralia City Cemetery at 6:30 p.m. Monday

Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6276 will host the event, as well as the Avenue of Flags.

Guest speaker Captain Ryan Ball of the U.S. Army said the service has been held every year for more than 10 years to honor military veterans.

Centralia Cemetery board member Greg Pauley said between 410 and 415 flags line the roads of the cemetery. Each flag is labeled with the name of a deceased veteran.

Ball, who is also a member of the VFW, said he has been asked to speak at the event for several years, but hasn't been able to do so because of his Army schedule.

"I was finally able to make it up and say a few words tonight in honor of Memorial day and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom," he said.

Ball started his career as an infantryman in Washington DC. The infantry regimen he was assigned to is known as the Honor Guard. Shortly after arriving in the nation's capitol, he volunteered for service at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. There he earned the Tomb Guard Identification Badge. Ball said that only 632 of these badges have been given out since 1958. It's the least awarded badge in the military, he said.

"We as Tomb Guards have always talked about how every day for us is Memorial Day," Ball said.

He said, while Memorial Day is a good time to have fun with family, it's important to remember what the day is really honoring.

"I think across the nation, many people have become disconnected with the fact that we've been at war," he said. "Unless you have a military service member as a family member or loved one, spouse, you really don't think of the day-to-day life of a country at war for the last 13 or 14 years."