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Franklin man ensures 600+ veterans’ graves have American flags on Memorial Day

FRANKLIN, Va. – If you drive by Poplar Springs Cemetery on Memorial Day, you will see American flags standing tall, beside dozens upon dozens of grave sites.

There are about 650 of them, to be exact.

Scott Phillips says it is something he has been a part of for the past 35 years.

“What better way to honor your vets,” he says.

Phillips originally helped through boy scouts. The American Legion provided the scouts the flags, and the troop provided the manpower.

However, in the early 90’s, his troop folded.

His father, a Youth Liaison for the legion took the project upon himself, and Phillips helped him.

A few years later, his father had a heart attack and was diagnosed with dementia.

“He couldn’t carry on, so I carried on.”

After his father passed away, Phillips reached out to a close friend, Mike Magee, an Assistant Scout Master from back in his boy scouts troop. 

Magee now takes off the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend to help with the project.

They contact local funeral homes in early May and look at maps to plan where they need to put the flags.

“It’s worth taking a week off,” he says. “It’s a way to give back is the way to look at it, and a way to honor others and I just enjoy it.”

The two also have some helpers from a local boy scout and girl scout troop, which Phillip’s 11-year-old daughter, Laney, is a part of.

“I just like helping with dad,” she says.

When the kids come out to help, both Phillips and Magee give them a history lesson as well.

The city-owned cemetery dates back to the 1800’s.

“Two of our schools, the people they are named after are buried in this cemetery,” he says. “We have a General from the Spanish American war. There’s a history lesson.”

Phillips says he would like to eventually pass the project onto his daughters.

However, both men say until they physically cannot handle the project, they plan to do it every single year.

“It’s not about a cookout,” says Phillips. “Somebody died for your freedom. Not all of these people here died during the war, but they gave party of themselves for your freedom.”