Memorial Day: The Old Guard places flags on graves at Arlington National Cemetery

Photo: James Joslyn/WJLA

Hundreds of soldiers were sent on a special mission Thursday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery. They placed American flags at each grave.

That's more than 600 acres covered in red, white, and blue. And it's a tradition that dates back more than 60 years.

On the eve of Memorial Day weekend since 1948, the Army's official ceremonial unit dubbed The Old Guard deploys at Arlington National Cemetery.

Nearly 900 soldiers weighed down with flags for our fallen heroes.

"When I do something like this, it's just a small token of appreciation that I can give back," says Specialist Julian Johnson of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard).

This is Private Liam Roberts' first year out "planting pride."

"Honor those who've come before us," Roberts says. "Those who've helped build this country. I look at what the grave says and I try to think about what that character or what that person ... what role they played."

Roberts, 19, enlisted in the Army, following in his family's footsteps.

"My father was here 30 years ago doing a similar job I'm doing right now," Roberts says. "My grandfather was here 50 years ago."

Flags are being placed at each of the cemetery's more than 220,000 graves, an act of honor and respect touching everyone who visits here.

American flags were also placed at the Tomb of the Unknowns. The flags will remain throughout the cemetery through Memorial Day.