They were up before first light Thursday morning; members of Knoxville veterans organizations, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and some from the general public…about 50 volunteers in all, helping to set up Graceland Cemetery for Veterans Day weekend.

They followed a truck around the cemetery, taking out American flags and mounting them on poles along the trails leading to various service members’ graves; the procession continued on to the flag display on the west side of Graceland, featuring the banners of the various branches of the Armed Forces.

Members of the American Legion formed an honor guard, for a salute to vets and fallen heroes of the past.

Curt Froyen is Commander of the American Legion Post in Knoxville; he tells KNIA/KRLS News it’s appropriate that this ceremony comes right after an election…because it reminds us of the freedoms we enjoy, thanks to the work and sacrifice of service personnel throughout the generations.

“This is one of our greatest freedoms and rights in this country…exercising our right to vote, to choose our elected officials; and that right comes as the result of a sacrifice,” Froyen says. “Sacrifice made by hundreds and thousands, actually millions of men and women over the years who’ve served this country. And this is a…fitting way to recognize our veterans and the service they’ve given to our country.”

The American Legion regularly provides an honor guard for funerals and similar events; Froyen says many on the honor guard are senior citizens, and haven’t been in uniform in decades — but continue to serve this way, and pay tribute to their fellows.