To commemorate Memorial Day, approximately 2,000 flags were recently distributed at New St. Mary’s Cemetery in Bellmawr by Bell Oaks Upper Elementary School students and members of VFW 9563 and VFW 7410.
Bellmawr Councilman Ray Bider, who is also the President of VFW 9563 Men’s Auxiliary, said the flag distribution is an annual event conducted two weeks prior to Memorial Day. Each VFW works hand in hand to make sure every veteran has a flag placed on his or her grave. He explained that graves are marked or have a Camden County medallion on them so they knew where to place the flags. “If a marker is broken, we replace it,” Bider said.
To remember those veterans who are buried at other cemeteries, Bider forwarded flags and markers to anyone who requested them.
Bell Oaks teacher, Gina Catrambone, recognized what a great opportunity this was for the students. “I knew it was something that the students would love to take part in and this was a great way for the Bellmawr Learning Community to get involved and honor our veterans,” she said.
Catrambone asked her students why they wanted to volunteer with this service project. Eighth graders, Emily Martin, Natalie Klus, Jimmy Marengo, Kevin Huang, Lindsey Burleigh, Joey Rubba, and Roheena Saleem were among the student volunteers who helped with the flag distribution and worked together to come up with a response.
The students said: “We helped with this project because we felt that those who served our country deserved to be recognized. Without them, our country and our people would not be the way that they are today. We were very honored to devote our time to remember their efforts.”
Noting that the veterans’ sacrifices should never be forgotten, they added: “It is very important to honor the veterans because they put their life on the line to protect us every day.”
On Monday, the VFWs will participate in Memorial Day ceremonies by laying wreaths throughout Bellmawr starting at 8:30 a.m. at VFW 7410 at 31 Walnut Avenue.
At 9:00 a.m. the Bellmawr shuttle bus will proceed to the following locations to place wreaths:
- Bellmawr Municipal Building
- Bellmawr Fire & Rescue Squad #1
- Hedding Methodist Cemetery
- Monument at New St. Mary’s Cemetery
- Bellmawr Park Mutual Housing
- Bellmawr Park Volunteer Fire Company
- VFW 9563