MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Family and friends made their way to Fort Snelling National Cemetery Monday to lay flowers and plant American flags on the graves of loved ones who served in the U.S. military.

A group of friends from southern Minnesota hopped on their flag-draped motorcycles for their annual Memorial Day trip to cemeteries around the state.

Cindy Woodbeck of Randolph said they’ll roll up about 200 miles this Memorial Day.

“We visit parents; we visit grandparents. We visit uncles, aunts, my brother, a sister we have in the group,” she said.

Not all of those family members are war veterans, but many are who are buried at Fort Snelling. The cemetery is the scene of Minnesota’s largest Memorial Day ceremony.

“This is the most beautiful scenery you’ve ever seen in your life,” Woodbeck said. “Look at it. There’s nothing like it, all of our vets and everybody here to take care of country. It’s just beautiful.”

Woodbeck is visiting her father’s grave for the first time Monday. He died two weeks ago.

Carl Carlson of Eagan made his annual visit to Fort Snelling, where his best friend Wally Prokash is buried. Prokash fought in Vietnam, and had breakfast with Carlson every Tuesday before he died.

“Very moving,” Carlson said, fighting back tears. “Lots of flags. It’s good that people remember our fallen heroes.”

While paying his respects, Carlson made sure to straighten out the flag planted next to his friend’s headstone.

“He would be proud,” Carlson said.

He noted it’s always sad to come to Fort Snelling National Cemetery, but rewarding to see how so many take the time to remember those who died fighting for their country.

The grounds became a national cemetery in 1939, and first became a burial site in 1870 for soldiers who served at Fort Snelling.  More than 200,000 are buried there, including eight Medal of Honor winners.

Others who interred at Fort Snelling include Chuck Lindberg, who helped raise the first flag at Iwa Jima during World War II, and Thomas Burnett, who was on the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2001.

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