Family Memorial Day Tradition Spans Generations

Zoe Kizer places flower on military headstone

The Beaufort National Cemetery is a place for loved ones to honor soldiers and grieve their loss.

It also is an incredible sight to see.
The expanse or the property. The fields of headstones, the row after row of soldiers who fought or made the ultimate sacrifice.

Among those rows are many soldiers and loved ones who don’t have anyone. That’s where Roni Greenhalge comes in.

Family buys and places more than 100 flowers on headstones around Beaufort National Cemetery

Her family does not have anyone buried here, but they take on the task of honoring everyone, one flower at a time.

“I thought it was important for my children to learn that today isn’t about BBQ’s and the beach,” said Roni Greenhalge

Roni Greenhalge has been bringing her kids here every Memorial Day for almost a decade.

Each one, young and old has grown up getting flowers and placing them on the headstones of soldiers and their spouses. Men and women who they believe should be honored the right way.

“We learn about the spouses here, we make sure to visit all of the ones that don’t have anything on them because their family members may also be here or not be alive any more or not be around to come and visit,” said Roni. “Just the sacrifices that they have done for their country and the environments they’ve had to withstand to do something they feel is important is something I want to honor and appreciate.”

Gabriel Greenhalge places flower at soldier’s grave

“It makes me appreciate more the people who sacrificed their lives for the country because it was a great sacrifice,” said 19 year old Gabriel Greenhalge. “These people gave their lives for us to be here today. ”

The tradition started after Gabriel, who was a members of the Civil Air Patrol, stopped being part of the Memorial Day ceremony. The family decided to come back to the cemetery anyway, to give something special to the people, the military men and women who came before.

Gabriel in 2010
Gabriel in 2010

“Usually when i put a flower on somebody’s graves its because they represent the same things I do. for example beloved wife. These people really enjoyed the world,” explains Gabriel. and they appreciated the things that i think i appreciate now. ”

“A lot of people say they’d rather be out doing other things…”
“I’d rather be doing this,” said Alexis Rohe, Roni’s daughter.

Alexis Rohe in 2010
Alexis Rohe in 2017

Kids who could be at the pool or playing with friends.. instead walking the aisles of graves. To remember there’s so much more to life and freedom.

“(They had families who) Loved them so much that they could do something like this and that person sacrificed their life to save the world you could say,” said Alexis.

Now a new set of kids are making their own tradition. Zoe and Alec, Roni’s boyfriend’s children are here with flowers in hand as well.

“All of these people were in the military and they died serving our country. and technically i wouldn’t still be here without them,” said Zoe Kizer.

“I hope that all the people in the grave go to heaven and they get to see God again,” said 5 year old Alec Kizer.

All plan to keep the flowers and honor blooming for years to come.

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