INSTITUTE, WV (WOWK) – Service members, veterans and members of the community gathered in Institute today to continue a tradition at the State Veterans Cemetery this Memorial Day.

Today is a day to honor those who bravely served our country, and also an opportunity to retire our nation’s flags with a special burning ceremony. Above all, it’s a chance to say, “Thank you,” while we remember our freedom isn’t free.

“When one (flag) becomes old and worn, just getting rid of it, throwing it in the trash would be highly disrespectful,” says Daryle Bayless, director of operations at the WV Department of Veterans Assistance. “So we afford it. We afford the flag the same military honors as we would for ourselves and our comrades as a sign of respect.

The Donel. C. Kinnard Cemetery, also known as the State Veteran’s Cemetery, where today’s event was held is named after Kinnard, who was a decorated Vietnam War Navy Veteran and the first to be buried there when the cemetery opened more than a decade ago.