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Flowers decorate a grave at the Chattanooga National Cemetery after the 2015 Memorial Day program.
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Jay Greeson

There are a lot of cool traditions around the greater Chattanooga area.

There's Riverbend. There's the running of the chihuahuas. There's the weekly passage of send A2 columnist hate mail.

Here's a vote for the Memorial Day events at the Chattanooga National Cemetery taking a backseat to none of them.

Area Boy Scouts — and all interested volunteers are welcome — will place American flags at the graves of those buried in our national cemetery this morning. The event starts at 8 a.m., and if you haven't done it, I can assure you it will not disappoint.

There of course will be the ceremony on Monday — this year's keynote speaker is Phil Sumrall, the chaplain from American Legion Post 95 and a retired commander of the U.S. Navy.

If you can't make either of these, there is the annual Tuesday flag collection — weather permitting — at the National Cemetery.

Simply put, the tradition of paying gratitude to those who paid the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy a long weekend must be embraced, honored and forever valued.

From this American, let me be the next to say "Thank you" and God bless.

A yearbook to remember

We, in our current state, deal a whole lot in the negative margin. It's where we are, and hopefully, we can learn from our miscues.

In this space we have asked questions about the young people of our country and their sensitivities.

Today, let's share a story to cherish.

Meet Andrew Schalk, a 16-year-old high school junior in Fredericksburg, Va. Andrew has battled Type 1 diabetes so severe that his blood-sugar swings are dangerous — so dangerous that he needs a service dog. Alpha is the name of the black Lab who has saved Andrew's life dozens of times by detecting life-threatening changes in his blood sugar levels.

Andrew's school, the students, faculty and parents have embraced Andrew and his canine hero.

The evidence? It's right there, on page 20 of the yearbook. Right next to Andrew Schalk's photo is a color photo of Alpha Schalk.

Good for them.

And here's hoping that next year Alpha is the big dog on campus.

Making memories

On this Memorial Day, we'd be remiss if we failed to offer special congratulations to the lifelong memories made by high school athletes who have experienced Spring Fling this week.

For the state champions, relish the achievement. No one will ever be able to take it from you. (But don't let that be your ceiling.)

For the ones who fell short, well, the pain is understandable. But know this: in the years and decades to come, making the field and getting there will be way more meaningful than you realize.

Finally, for most of the seniors, this will be the last meaningful competition on this type of scale. We can assure you the fun and laughter will forever be a part of you. Cherish that and remember the lessons of success and failure that all sports can teach and fans and parents should validate.

Congrats to all.

Saturday's memorable stars

I will be brief here, and I don't know the final outcome as I type this.

But I'm going to give this Saturday's star to the 5-and-6 Tigers — Madeline Ray, Nico, Cooper, Harrison, Clark, Jack, Jackson, Flint, Thatcher and Henry — and their magical run in my last season coaching a team at Timberlinks.

I want to thank each of you — as well as your parents and Pop, Justin and Shawn for helping coach — for a great year and a lifetime of memories, whether we win the championship or not.

Happy Memorial Day, everyone.

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