Honoring fallen veterans one flag at a time

Fred "Sonny" Ziehmer places flags on the graves of fallen veterans in California, Missouri.

The graves at four California cemeteries are lined with American flags in honor of Memorial Day.

And it's all thanks to one man.

Fred "Sonny" Ziehmer is a Vietnam War veteran. He was stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia and deployed with the United States Army in 1965.

He came back from war that same year, and that's when this tradition started.

"In 1966, I started helping a close friend of mine, Jimmy Chaney. He was quartermaster of the post," said Sonny. "Me and him did this together until about 1991 when he died, and I've been doing it every year since."

Covering all four adjoining cemeteries with nearly 1,000 flags takes the 73-year-old about six hours. He doesn't stop until he's all done.

When Sonny comes out to honor his fellow veterans, he looks for military-marked gravestones. But after almost 50 years of placing flags on graves, it's safe to say he's got them almost all memorized.

A few days after Memorial Day, Sonny will head back out to collect his flags to use next year.

"It's a great honor to do this," said Sonny. "These men and women served their country. I look at memorials of these guys who've lost their lives, and it makes you think how lucky we are to live here in America."

It's a small gesture to honor his fellow servicemen.