Over 1,000 members of the U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) place 228,000 flags at headstones for Memorial Day weekend at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va. on on May 21, 2015.
Brooks Kraft—Corbis for TIME
By Marisa Schwartz Taylor
May 22, 2015

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, the distinguished Old Guard, honors the nation’s fallen soldiers each year by planting more than 228,000 American flags at every grave marker in Arlington National Cemetery ahead of Memorial Day weekend.

The annual “Flags-In” ceremony echoes the origins of Memorial Day traditions, when both Confederate and Union soldiers decorated the graves of their fallen compatriots after the Civil War. The Old Guard has conducted this tradition yearly since 1948.

TIME contributing photographer Brooks Kraft captured this year’s ceremony on Thursday. More than 1,000 soldiers participated in the ritual over a span of four hours at the sprawling Arlington National Cemetery near Washington.


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