American flags placed on military veterans’ graves at Belleview Cemetery

LENOIR, NC (May 18, 2020) — Armed with 400 small American flags, a group of volunteers fanned across the Belleview Cemetery grounds Monday afternoon in the light rain.

Among the volunteers who helped with the local VFW post’s project Mondayat Belleview Cemetery were: front row, from left, Tucker’s Barns DAR chapter member Linda Walker, Ann Spencer, Deborah Mirco and Anna Bottoms; and second row, from left: VFW post chaplain Sam Spencer, Harold Riggs, Larry Helms and Larry Helderman.

Their mission: Marking the graves of military veterans in preparation for Memorial Day.

VFW Post 5381Chaplain Sam Spencer didn’t have a total on veterans’ graves in the municipal cemetery, but he did know that some date back to the Spanish-American War as well as a few from the Civil War.

The flag-planting project is headed by the local Veterans of Foreign War post. But like Spencer, who also is the commander of the local Disabled American Veterans post, several volunteers represented more than one veterans’ organization.

James Watts looks for military veterans’ graves to mark with an American flag at Belleview Cemetery in Lenoir.

James Ritch, who is a member of the VFW, DAV and American Legion, said Monday was his second or third time helping plant American flags on veterans’ graves.

“It’s an honor. If it wasn’t for us and these guys, we wouldn’t be here today,” said Ritch, who was drafted into the Army in 1966 and served until his discharge in 1968. Upon his return to the States, he then served more than a decade in the National Guard.

On Monday, Vietnam War veteran James Watts was carrying a bundle of flags and helping Ritch scope out military grave markers. Watts, who served in the Marine Corps, is a member of the local DAV and American Legion posts.

Wayne Mihelich, Navy veteran and retired West Caldwell ROTC instructor, and Larry Helms, right, look for military veterans’ graves at Belleview Cemetery in Lenoir, NC.

And this year, volunteers from another local patriotic service group became involved. Spencer’s wife, Ann, is a member of the Tucker’s Barn Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, which was chartered last fall.

“My husband, Sam, served 25 years in the Army, so I consider it an honor to remember these brave soldiers with the flag that meant so much to them,” Ann Spencer said.

Tucker’s Barn DAR chapter regent Cindy Day and her husband, Jack, were another couple representing multiple local veterans/patriotic service groups.

Tucker’s Barn DAR chapter member Sue McKee places a flag at the grave of Robert A. Atkinson at Belleview Cemetery.

“My husband served 10 years in the Army,” Day said. “We should remember those who served, who did without so we can have, and who have protected our freedoms. It’s an honor to remember these veterans and their service.”

About eight DAR chapter members helped with the project Monday. And earlier this month, several DAR members came out to clean veterans’ graves in the Belleview Cemetery.

“I do not want Americans to forget the sacrifices of these brave men for our liberties!, Anna Bottoms, who serves the Tucker’s Barn DAR chapter chaplain, said of her involvement in the projects.

“Every person who served our country deserves to be remembered and thanked. It’s the least we can do,” said Deborah Mirco, a Tucker’s Barn chapter member. “And seeing those flags throughout the cemetery is a beautiful visual of Caldwell’s contribution to our military.”

More Caldwell County veterans’ graves are expected to be marked by various organizations throughout the week.

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The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote historic preservation, education and patriotism. Its members descend from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. DAR members are committed to volunteer service. To learn more about the work of today’s DAR, visit or connect with social media at; and

Any woman age 18 or older, regardless of race, religion, or ethnic background, who can prove direct lineal descent from a person who served in the military or a civil capacity during the war or rendered material aid to the American Independence cause is eligible. To inquire about membership in the Tucker’s Barn DAR chapter, please call Cindy Hedrick Day at 828-758-4004 or email

A National Society Daughters of the American Revolution Press Release