We are all proud to be Americans. We wear our military medals and decorations and we are all in agreement -those who gave the supreme sacrifice are the real heroes.

I'd like everyone to think about giving these brave men and women the respect they deserve by not removing the markers, flags and flag holders from their graves. Would you ever think of throwing away your father, son or daughter's military awards or medals? Of course not. These awards are a way of saying, "I served; I answered our country's call."

We who can still march in parades and pat each other on the back and even, at times, buy each other a beer can talk about the experiences we had serving our country. What about the many men and women who are incapable of marching in parades or to pat each other on the back because they now occupy our memorial parks? Who will tell about all their brave deeds and decorations?

These fallen patriots are recognized by our government through a brass plaque that rests flat on their graves. They are not easy to see in the grass unless you are standing directly over them. In addition, some counties provide a flag holder and various military organizations provide flags. However, this practice becomes very expensive due to some people removing the items.

They are not for the families; they are placed on the graves for the deceased patriots who have earned this recognition. This provides a chance for their "voices" still to be heard, saying, "I served, and I'm proud. See my flag?"

I ask you, please do not confiscate the markers, flags or flag-holders from veterans' graves. Allow them their moment of recognition and respect.

(Joseph Boylan, U.S. Army retired, tends to local veterans' gravesites.)