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INDIANAPOLIS — Memorial Day weekend is here, and honoring veterans will be a lot different this year due to COVID-19.

Most major gatherings have been canceled, but Rushville native Misty Kuneman isn’t letting that stop her from honoring veterans.

Kuneman is honoring veterans by making 1,318 patriotic “Hope Flowers”.

Kuneman and her husband placed “Hope Flowers” on the graves of veterans at East Hill Cemetery in Rushville where her son Justin Crowder is buried.

 “I pour all my love into them that I can’t give to my son right now,” Kuneman said.

Kuneman started making these flowers to find hope again after her son and his 2 friends were murdered 3 years ago.

“I could’ve never guessed that we would be in this pandemic now and everyone is really searching for hope,” Kuneman explained.

The flowers bring her joy, so why not share them with others who have lost someone?

“It is very heartfelt to see others in the community honoring relatives, friends, and colleagues,” Indiana Department of Veteran Affairs Director Dennis Wimer explained.

Wimer encourages others to follow in Kuneman’s footsteps and honor a veteran in your own special way.

 “Many of our cemeteries’ grounds are open. We can go and remember our loved ones. Remember those who have fallen,” Wimer said.

Wimer said something as simple as placing a flag outside is a way to show your gratitude to the men and women who lost their life fighting for our freedom.

He said this Memorial Day is also a chance to honor those who have risked their own life to help save others during the middle of this pandemic.

This Monday, The Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) staff along with workers at the Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery will honor all buried at the cemetery on Memorial Day.

American flags will be available for visitors to place on the graves of loved ones. Cemetery staff, IDVA staff, and volunteers will ensure each grave marker has a flag on it by the end of the day. 

Every visitor will receive a flag to place on their loved one’s grave and taps will play on the hour beginning at 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

Beginning at 1 p.m., staff and volunteers will ensure all graves have flags placed at them by the end of the day. Members of the community who would like to assist in this effort are encouraged to arrive by 1 p.m. All visitors must follow all social distancing guidelines. 

The Indiana Veterans Memorial Cemetery is located at 1415 North Gate Road, Madison, In 47250.