Local volunteers mark headstones with flags for Memorial Day

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The U.S. flag is the ultimate symbol of freedom, but when that flag is multiplied thousands of times, it puts into perspective just how many were willing to give their life to make that freedom a reality. 

"We appreciate their sacrifice, we have them to thank for our freedom. That's one of the beautiful things about living in the United States is our freedom," said Emily Howell with The Veteran Initiative. 

Putting their gratitude into action, volunteers spent the day making sure each headstone at the Bay Pines National Cemetery in St. Petersburg was marked by a flag. 

"They say that you die twice: once when you die, and the second time is the last time you say their name. Memorial Day, when we're out placing the flags, we say their name so that they're never forgotten," Glen Howell said. 

It's a simple gesture that, for some, makes all the difference. 

"Coming out here, it's calming. It's peaceful and it's calming, and it's just heartwarming," said Denise Lukacik, the daughter of a veteran buried at Bay Pines National Cemetery.

Lukacik's father, Sgt. William Coffey, served in the Marines during the Korean War. He returned home after he was injured in combat. 

"Even though he didn't serve for a very long time, our country, service to our country, patriotism is very, very important to him," she said.

The flag serves as a reminder of Sgt. Coffey's, as well as millions of others', undying dedication and love for this country. 

"He wasn't running away from anything," Lukacik said. "He was running towards something, towards what he knew that he could give."

Volunteers honored those this Memorial Day who were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice and thanking those who did. 

"One of the biggest fears people have is being forgotten, and doing stuff like this ensures they're never forgotten," said Logan Cagel, a 20-year-old currently in the Army National Guard.

The Bay Pines National Cemetery will be hosting a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday at 10 a.m.