March 10, 2018 — Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) District Nine Post 3232 is asking members of the surrounding communities to participate in an informal gathering of information pertaining to veterans buried in the Pacific Sunset Cemetery, located just outside of Florence on Highway 126.
Ken Smith, Commander of VFW Post 3232, hopes any information gathered will allow the local chapter members to officially mark the headstone of veterans with approval from their family.
VFW primarily undertook the effort so that identified veterans can be included in future military recognition ceremonies that take place at Pacific Sunset. Florence plans events to honor veterans during Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, Independence Day and other patriotic holidays.
“We want anyone with a relative or family member in the cemetery to let us know if they want us to put a permanent medallion, honoring their relative’s service, on the individual’s headstone,” Smith said.
Pacific Sunset Cemetery has veteran headstones dating back to World War I — and VFW hopes to honor every veteran buried there.
“We have gotten a lot of calls over the past few years asking how they can get a marker or a flag on the gravesite for Memorial Day, and we came up with this idea for folks that want to have a medallion for their veteran,” Smith said.
Members of Post 3232 and local Cub and Boy Scouts have been helping VFW place flags, crosses and flowers at the gravesites of veterans for the past few years.
Jim Swant, Senior Vice Commander for Post 3232, feels the time spent with the young scouts helps to share the history of the country and of individuals from this area who served in the military.
“It’s been really good working with the scouts the last couple of years, putting out the crosses on Memorial Day,” Swant said. “It helps them to learn about our history and it helps us by putting out all the crosses and flowers.”
The response from community members to the VFW recognition, and the feedback from veterans and their families, has been positive so far.
The post has ordered more than 600 medallions for the project, and there will be no cost to veterans’ families for the recognition.
VFW members are working with cemetery owner Alan Burns on finalizing the procedure that will be used to verify veteran information. They will also work with Burns to figure out the best way to properly attach medallions to veterans’ headstones.
Smith asks that anyone interested in participating in VFW’s program contact him directly for more details at 541-997-8231.