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.