Alan Stahl and Mike Sanders grew up on their fathers' tales of battles in World War II. The stories instilled a sense of awe and thankfulness for the sacrifice of those who died in service to their country.
Maybe that's why they did it, committed what they hope won't be viewed as an act of trespass Monday when they clambered over the fence enclosing a small, military cemetery just off Walton Way and Arsenal Street to place an American flag.
"It was Mike's idea," Mr. Stahl said of his pal and next-door neighbor. "He just showed up over her with a flag and asked me if I wanted to participate."
"It needed to be done," Mr. Sanders said. "I had just been out kind of wandering around (their McDowell Street neighborhood) and I noticed there wasn't anything up there.
"I think I did it for me more than anyone else. There comes a time when you have to remember and this gave me a chance to do it," Mr. Sanders said.
The men didn't like the idea of a cemetery filled with the graves of servicemen and their families left unadorned on Memorial Day. It didn't seem right for Mr. Sanders, whose father was shot down over Belgium during WWII and imprisoned in a prisoner of war camp until he was successful on his second escape attempt. Nor did unmarked graves seem right to Mr. Stahl whose father served in WWII in the Pacific Theater, an Army soldier who fought on Okinawa.
"We'll take care of them and hope that people in distance areas (where their loved ones are buried) will take care of ours," Mr. Stahl said.
Amid the three dozen or so graves of men who died during the Civil War and those who worked at the Arsenal up through the 1930s stands a large, stately oak tree, now adorned with an American flag.