Rotarian Martin Grohman helps Biddeford Intermediate School fourth-grader Madison Colomb place a flag next to a grave site at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Biddeford on Friday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

BIDDEFORD — Memorial Day is more than a day off from school or work, or an excuse to barbecue and eat burgers. It’s a time to pause and honor members of the armed forces who died serving our country during military service.

Pupils from Biddeford schools on Friday made recognizing veterans a priority. Through a collaboration between the American Legion, Rotary Club of Biddeford-Saco and the Biddeford School District, students from Biddeford Intermediate School and Biddeford Middle School put flags on veterans’ graves at St. Joseph Cemetery.

Early Friday morning, about 15 students from the fourth and fifth grades at Biddeford Intermediate School gathered at the cemetery and discussed the meaning of Veterans Day with Rotarian Martin Grohman and local veteran Raoul Goulet who served in the army as a combat photographer.

School Counselor Kelsey Stephenson said students were selected by the school and had a discussion about Memorial Day before walking from the school to the cemetery.

Students were doled out bundles of flags and were given the task to find veterans’ graves.

Careful not to let the flags touch the ground, students sought out graves and placed the flags in the appropriate spots.

Fourth-grader Madison Colomb said she liked the project because it was important to remember those who had served our country and those who had died in service.

Biddeford Intermediate School fourth-grader Logan Drake places a flag at St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Biddeford on Friday. LIZ GOTTHELF/Journal Tribune

Fourth-grader Logan Drake said he and his father, who is a veteran who served in the Marine Corps, had discussed the project on the ride to school that morning. He said they discussed the importance of honoring veterans and his father was proud that he was participating in the flag placing.

In total, Grohman said, about 1,800 flags were placed on veterans graves on Friday. Members of the American Legion Post 26 collect them after July 4. If the flags are in good condition, they are stored at the Legion for use the next year.

“If new flags are needed the city of Biddeford is generous enough to cover the cost,” said Grohman.

Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be reached at 780-9015 or by email at [email protected]

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