Holly, MI  (CBS Detroit)  – When visitors arrive at Great Lakes National Veterans Cemetery in Holly, one of two national cemeteries in Michigan (the other being Fort Custer outside of Kalamazoo), the first thing they care greeted by is the Avenue of Flags, a street lined with one-hundred large American Stars and Stripes.

Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and were discharged under conditions other than dishonorable. A Veteran’s spouse, widow or widower, minor dependent children, and under certain conditions, unmarried adult children with disabilities may also be eligible for burial.

The Avenue of Flags is one of the most photographed parts of the cemetery and brings visitors to reflect on the thousands of men and women who have served, and also died, in the military. Maintaining those flags is a weekly duty for several volunteers.

“This is hallowed ground, this is sacred ground,” says retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Ronald Smith. “Every one of these headstones and every one of the niches in the columnbariums represents an individual and a family who sacrificed, so that we have the ability to do what we do on a daily basis.”

“We have an Avenue of Flags which is something not every national cemetery has,” continues Smith. “It’s very unique to us. A hundred flags on the Avenue, and every Monday morning a group of volunteers like myself will come out and we walk the Avenue of Flags just to make sure that the flags are in good repair.”

“We all are either Veterans or family of Veterans, and all you need is a desire to do something to honor the Veterans that are laying at rest here, and their families and spouses.”

“We all share the dedication and patriotism that we feel,” explains volunteer Ken Ganapini. “This is a country founded on tremendous principals and especially in today’s climate and culture, this need for a re-birth in patriotism has never been stronger than it is today.  It’s a very much an unknown gem sitting right here in Holly, Michigan.”

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