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Township board to honor fallen veterans with American flags



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March 19, 2014 - Atlas Twp.-Veterans buried in the township may soon get new recognition for their service.

Township officials proposed at the March 6 budget work session to purchase the flags and holders for veterans interred in the Atlas Community Baptist Church Cemetery, Goodrich Cemetery, Greenwood Cemetery, Horton Cemetery, Sandborn Cemetery and the Sweers Cemetery.

"The task will be to identify the veterans in the township cemeteries," said Shirley Kautman-Jones, township supervisor. "There are graves dating back to the Revolutionary War and forward all the way to the Gulf Wars—we'll need the input of the community in finding the graves. Our goal will be to get this done with volunteers by Memorial Day."

However, before it can begin, a Public Act 63 of 1915 requires a petition of five eligible voters for a municipality such as Atlas Township to provide a U.S. flag and flag holder for the grave of each veteran who served in the U.S. Armed Forces and is buried within the limits of a cemetery belonging to the city, village, or township. There is no authority in law for a local unit of government to provide the same service for its veterans who are buried in other cemeteries, either private or religious.

Groveland Township coordinates the flags and holders for four cemeteries including the Hadley, Ortonville, Olive Branch and Mt. Bethel.

"The flags are put on the graves just before Memorial Day and we pick them up after Labor Day," said Pam Mazich, Groveland Township Clerk. "Some flag holders are bronze that indicate the war the veteran served in, but vandalism may be a concern. Many are using a thermoplastic flag holder that seems to be very durable. There's also a big cost difference to consider."

"We put new flags up each spring— it really looks nice and is a nice tribute to our area veterans," she said. "We also encourage family members of veterans to let us know if the gravestone is not marked so we can set up a flag for them."

Consideration of the proposal will be discussed at an upcoming township meeting.

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