CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of American flags have been placed near the graves of those who served their country at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports, it’s the work of volunteers to help honor the true spirit of Memorial Day.

Up close it’s just one flag by one grave stone. But there is a bigger picture here.

Composed of thousands of flags, thousands of gravestones and thousands of stories of service.

Each Memorial Day weekend the family of Alan Hoffstad, who spent time in the Navy, places a flag by his grave, and reflects on his life.

Then they continue on, leaving hundreds of other banners by the markers of those they never new.

“They fought for us, a lot of them gave their lives for us to be free,” said Judy Moore of Palos Heights.

There are over 47,000 veterans and their family members buried at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

And on Memorial Day weekend, volunteers plant a flag by just about every one.

“The first time I came here, I wont lie, I was a little spooked out because it’s a cemetery,” said Amiya Givens of Laraway School.

But year after year, Amiya Givens and her classmates from Laraway Middle School have learned it’s something more.

“My uncle actually served in the military, so it’s very sacred. It’s like I’m doing it for him as well,” said Givens.

“Dad was in World War II in General Patton’s armored tank division. He was one of the lucky ones who survived,” said Mitch Dikselis of University Village.

Bernie Dikselis came home, raised a family and like so many others, gave us a reason to make Memorial Day a banner moment.

“If they didn’t die for this country, we wouldn’t have what we have today,” he added.

The Abraham Lincoln Cemetery is part of the national network of cemeteries dedicated to veterans and their families.