She said the flags provided a sense of peace for families visiting during the holiday weekend, a time that can be particularly hard emotionally for many.

"When this whole cemetery is draped with beautiful flags, that's wonderful," Brockman Turner said.

"(This is a) patriotic event that you're selflessly giving your time to a family member, and it may not have been your family member," she said.

Members of the Arrowhead/National Pike Districts, which include troops with Scouts from Catonsville and Arbutus, also placed flags at Loudon Park Cemetery the day before and at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery on May 25.

Steven Goldberg was doing volunteer public relations work with the Boy Scouts 26 years ago when the idea for the flag ceremony came to be.

"The National Cemetery called and asked if we would do a service project putting flags at all the gravestones," Goldberg, a Perry Hall resident, said. "I said absolutely we would."

After the ceremony, everyone in the gathered at the main flagpole and stone wall that overlooks most of the property.

A color guard marched in the colors, Meyers and 1st District Councilman Tom Quirk — who said his grandfather is buried at the veterans' cemetery — spoke to the crowd and current and former service members were honored.

The ceremony ended with the slow, solemn playing of Taps and a salute to the colors as they were marched out.

"I can't even describe how big (this place is) and how many people who lost their lives," Michael Wood said.

"I just always know there are so many people protecting our country," he said.