The Sleeping Ute Mountain Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution spent the days leading up to Memorial Day placing flags on the graves of veterans around Montezuma County.
For about a decade, chapter members have traveled to 19 cemeteries in Montezuma County, including Fairview in Yellow Jacket, Old Dolores, Battle Rock and Old Mormon and Cedar Grove in Mancos. They planted about 500 flags on the graves of Montezuma County residents who fought for the U.S. in conflicts since the Mexican-American War. According to a news release from Ruth Wilson Francisco, the tradition started with founding chapter member Daisy Mahaffey.
“The decorating of soldiers’ graves is an ancient practice – a common theme found worldwide among humans to remember valor and sacrifice,” Francisco wrote in the release.
At Fairview Cemetery on May 24, Francisco’s group of DAR members was joined by Bonnie Kane, a member of the Bakersfield DAR chapter in California. She said she visits Montezuma County every spring and fall, and makes sure to participate in local DAR events.
Planting flags is the group’s way of honoring veterans, especially the Montezuma County residents who served in World War II, Francisco said.
“They saved the world for us,” she said. “And young people forget that.”
She said the flag project helps people honor their ancestors’ contribution to the country.
The DAR visits the rural cemeteries during Memorial Day weekend, while veterans organizations such as the VFW and American Legion traditionally decorate graves in Cortez and other areas. Francisco asked that when DAR members find flags left over a previous last year, they take them to the American Legion for “proper deconsecration.”
The DAR is a nonprofit organization dedicated to historic preservation and patriotism made up of women who trace their ancestry back to the American Revolution. The Sleeping Ute Mountain Chapter has been active in Montezuma County since 1984.