RICHMOND, Va. -- The fifth annual "Hill of Heroes" installation is now on display at the Virginia War Memorial.
Dozens of volunteers spent the morning planting 12,000 American flags into the hillside next to the memorial to represent the nearly 12,000 Virginians who have given their live in the line of duty.
Among those who took part were current members of the Armed Forces.
"Definitely a lot of pride," said Pfc. Elizabeth Cortez with 262nd Quartermaster Battalion of what she felt as she placed the flags. "A lot of pride. And so many thank you's to all the people that gave their lives for us."
"We can never forget the people who paved the way and so we could be here today," added Pvt. Rashad Clifford, with the same battalion.
Several generations were also present, including members of local Boy Scout troops back for the third time.
"To respect the people who have passed away, sadly," said Ridgely Gill with Troop 2860.
And Kendall Harvey, who was there on her 81st birthday.
"What a better way to spend your birthday than to commemorate those people who can't have a birthday," said Harvey, whose brother and father served in the military. "It's an incredible thing to have so many people turn out to put the flags in, but it's also an incredible sadness to see that so many people in Virginia died, too, defending our rights."
They were also joined by state officials including First Lady of Virginia Suzanne Youngkin, Virginia Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Daniel Gade, and Virginia Department of Veterans and Defense Affairs Secretary Craig Crenshaw.
"This is this pretty moving, because you recognize what you're doing here is just paying tribute to our Virginians and each flag that we place in the ground, there's a sort of spirit that goes with it. And so, as much as we can continue to really pay tribute to those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, I think is something that we will always want to do and should be doing," said Crenshaw, who spent 35 years with the Marine Corps.
The flag planting was followed by a celebration at the memorial.
The flags will be on display until July 14.
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