Kim and Shaun Keepes are pictured in front of patriotic wreaths at Keepes Funeral Home on Tuesday.

MOUNT CARMEL — Memorial Day is an opportunity for the community to honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice while serving their country in the armed forces.

In remembrance of those veterans, many put out American flags as a sign of unity and patriotism. Local Boy Scouts place flags at the graves of each veteran.

Last year, Keepes Funeral Home offered the “Home of the Brave Flag Exchange” program to trade out new flags for the tattered, torn and faded flags. Over 100 worn flags were given to the funeral home last year, owners Shaun and Kim Keepes said, and the Mount Carmel Honor Guard will be holding a retirement flag ceremony to honorably dispose of the damaged flags.

“We just love to see the flags fly,” Kim said.

In addition to the flag exchange, the business gave away 50 new flags and took free will donations for local veteran Gary Arnold, Sr. to purchase new flags for the cemeteries in Wabash County. Over $400 in donations were collected during last years program.

“The reason that we do this is because my dad is retired Air Force and he instilled patriotism into my family, so we like to have our children present to help out with the flag exchange,” Shaun said. “It was neat last year — we had a lot of veterans who just stopped by to thank us — it’s easier for our kids to hear it, not from their mom or their dad, but hearing it from a Vietnam veteran.”

The Keepes kids will be involved again during the second annual program, with the youngest, Lilly Keepes, and her friend Nora operating a lemonade stand for those who stop by.

This year, the exchange will be offered on Friday, May 26, from 1 to 5 p.m. and again Tuesday, May 30, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents can bring their worn flags to Keepes Funeral Home to exchange it for a new U.S. made 3-by-5-foot flag purchased from the local Mount Carmel Rural King.

All of the donations collected this year will again go to Gary Arnold, Sr., in care of the local Honor Guard.

For more information, contact Keepes Funeral Home at 618-262-5200.

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