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Gravestones at Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise humanize our fallen heroes

"Now is a time for folks to really take that moment to reflect on those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and service to our nation."

BOISE, Idaho — The coronavirus pandemic is forcing many Americans to honor and remember those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. With fewer ceremonies to honor the service of the men and women who died, some people are taking it upon themselves to visit gravestones of Idahoans.

James Earp, the Bureau Chief of the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise, explained to KTVB that everyone should visit the cemetery at some point, even if it is not on Memorial Day. During a phone interview on Monday, he said people can not only say thanks to those who served but also learn more about the people who are buried there.

The gravestones at the cemetery memorialize the Idahoans who served our country but what families are limited to what they can say on a headstone. Earp explained that outside of religious symbols, full name, rank, war or campaign served, awards, families only have 32 characters and three lines to help define that person.

"These are descriptions, this is a way folks are going to remember their loved ones for generations to come," Earp said. "As individuals go through life, they continue to grow in different areas. They're now husbands, mothers, fathers, sons, uncles. We see a lot of memorials noticing an individual for other areas in their life that they've held there."

The descriptions on the gravestones at the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery help humanize those who served.

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"It's the personal information that really the family has an opportunity to let us know who this person really was," Earp explained. "High school sweethearts forever, and you look at that and you see their birth years in the 1920s and you can only imagine that through the ups and downs of life, their services and separation during war, these folks found each other and continue to share that relationship with each other."

"Now is a time for folks to really take that moment to reflect on those that paid the ultimate sacrifice and service to our nation."

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