Neighbors rally to help Boy Scouts with flags at SF National Cemetery for Memorial Day

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- On Memorial Day, even cemeteries were affected by coronavirus. San Francisco's National Cemetery in the Presidio was missing something, so neighbors showed up to make up for a tradition that was lost to social distancing.

"There's something about the sacredness of this space. It's impossible not to have it dig deep inside you," said Jim Woods, who visited the cemetery with a friend on Monday.

Neighbors continued a Memorial Day tradition of decorating graves, despite COVID-19.

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"We see people doing it most years and we wanted to do it this year, because a lot of people can't do it because they're in quarantine," said 12-year-old Flora Adair, who placed hand-picked flowers on the headstones of a circle of strangers.

"They fought for us so we could be here today, and we could have our freedom," said Adair.

During a non-pandemic year, each and every grave stone would be decorated with not just flowers, but flags, planted by Bay Area Boy Scouts. Typically, more than a thousand Scouts show up to place the flags. This year, the kids were not allowed to gather in groups for the annual assignment.

Neighbors found out the Scouts could not come and bought dozens of flags to plant around the cemetery. Not every stone is decorated with stars and stripes, but the community covered a lot of ground with red, white, and blue.

"I think it's beautiful. I pray it never, never ends. The patriotism," said Ginger Masuoka, who lives in San Francisco. Most of her family served in the military, including two of her brothers who are buried in the cemetery.
"Frank Wallman, private first class, U.S. Army," said Masuoka reading her brother's head stone.

In 1941, when she was 10, Ginger spent several weeks at a Japanese internment camp. Even so, her family went on to serve and fight in World War II.

ABC7 news reporter, Kate Larsen, asked her if this Memorial Day in the Presidio, felt any different.

"Not in my heart, no. I still feel the warmth and the memories," she said.

"They deserve to always be remembered, always be respected, and always be loved," said Woods.

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