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Arlington National Cemetery flag plantings kick off Memorial Day weekend (VIDEO)

The 3rd US Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, places a flag at each marker.

Arlington flag ceremony 2012 05 25Enlarge
A soldier plants a flag at a grave in Arlington National Cemetery May 24, 2012 in Washington, D.C. Flags were placed at more than 220,000 headstones this year in the ceremony, which has taken place every year since 1948. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Soldiers are planting an estimated 220,000 small US flags at the graves of those buried in Arlington National Cemetery to mark the start of Memorial Day weekend.

The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, places a flag at each grave marker starting Thursday afternoon, also leaving them at the Tomb of the Unknowns and the cemetery columbarium, The Associated Press reported.

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More than 1,200 soldiers participated in this year's ceremony, the Defense Department said on its website.

The flags have been planted in Arlington every year since 1948, according to CNN.

They will be removed after Memorial Day.

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"This is like a family cemetery," the Old Guard’s commander, Army Col. Dave Anders, told the Defense Department in a news release. "It's a sad place but very [comforting]."

Last Saturday, about 200 other buglers and trumpeters gathered at Arlington to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the composing of taps -- the spare, melancholy tune that has long been a traditional part of military funerals and services and is used to signal “lights out” at US. military bases around the world, the Washington Post reported.

Originally the home of Confederate Army commander Robert E. Lee, Arlington National Cemetery was established by Brig. Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs in 1864, several months after the government bought the land in an auction for $26,800.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/120525/arlington-national-cemetery-flag-plantings-memorial-day