Scaled back last year due to COVID, 11,000 Memorial Day flags return to the Capitol this weekend

Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana to adopt a scaled-back version of their annual Memorial Day Garden of the Flags and ceremonies. 

Instead of being open to the public, the 2020 Memorial Day events were restricted to only Blue Star members, and the 11,000 flags the group normally plants on the lawn of the Louisiana State Capitol were cut down to 250. 

But this year, the Blue Star Mothers and all their supporters look forward to once again honoring fallen service members in grand fashion for Memorial Day 2021.  

“We’re going wide open this year,” says Janet Broussard, founder and president of the Blue Star Mothers of Louisiana Chapter 1

The ceremonies will kick off the morning of May 29 with members of For Our Fallen, a Louisiana non-profit dedicated to honoring the memory of fallen service members, marching from LSU Memorial Tower to the Louisiana State Capitol. They’ll be transporting the 11,000 American flags to be planted in front of the capitol. 

The six-mile march begins at dawn, and on their way to the capitol, the marchers make stops at the Baton Rouge National Cemetery and the USS Kidd. 

Once that march concludes at the capitol, the ceremonies continue with the reading of the names of all Louisiana natives who have fallen in service to their country from Sept. 11, 2001, to the present. Current service members, Blue Star members, and members of the public who attend the event are all invited to partake in the reading. 

Accompanying the reading of the names will be a performance of “Taps”—the ceremonial bugle call performed at ceremonies honoring fallen members of the United States Armed Forces—as well as a 21-gun salute and a reading of the poem “We Remember Them” by Sgt. 1st Class O’Dell Ware, who is also the chief organizer of For Our Fallen. 

Then, the planting of the flags begins. Everyone in attendance of the ceremonies is invited to join in adorning the lawn of the capitol with 11,000 United States flags. 

And despite last year’s COVID-19 induced hindrances, Broussard says her organization and those with which it partners for this event are confident the public will turn out in droves to show their respect and appreciation for Louisiana’s fallen service members. 

“I hope that people will come out and really honor what Memorial Day is all about,” Broussard says. “It’s OK to celebrate, but it also needs to be remembered for the true meaning.”

For more information, visit bluestarmoms.net.