‘We just look at it and smile’: Flags placed for veterans at Shivwits Cemetery

ST. GEORGE — There will be no Veterans Day ceremony this year to honor those who are laid to rest at the Shivwits Cemetery, but volunteers from the Daughters of the American Revolution Color Country Chapter refreshed the flags on the graves Tuesday to honor the fallen heroes. 

Although the DAR’s plans for a parade in Washington City and a Veterans Day ceremony were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers made sure to change the flags at the Shivwits Cemetery to honor local Native Americans. 

“No excitement on Veterans Day, that just breaks our heart,” said Valerie King, regent of the DAR Color Country Chapter. 

The changing of the flags never draws a big crowd, but the DAR does it to support the Shivwits and the chapter’s American Indians Committee. 

“It’s usually a very small showing anyway because they’re very private and the cemetery is a lot different than what we’re accustomed to,” King said. 

The first flag that was changed was at the grave of Crawford Snow, a Paiute who served with the army’s 101st Airborne Division in Vietnam. He was killed in action on Mother’s Day, 1967. There are more than a dozen veterans buried at the cemetery, including one woman, Lilly Asket, who served in World War II and died in 1966. 

Tom Scott refreshes the flag at Wendell John’s grave at the Shivwits Cemetery on Nov. 10. Photo by Megan Webber | St. George News.

There are no written records of the people buried at the Shivwits Cemetery, so they are only remembered through oral history, said Shivwits Tribal Council Member Glenn Rogers, who attended the flag refreshing. Several of Rogers’ family members are buried at the cemetery, including two uncles and his father, Will Rogers, who served in World War II. His father never talked about the war and Rogers didn’t know his father had served until he was a teenager, he said. 

The Shivwits Cemetery doesn’t look like any modern American cemetery. Many of the graves are decorated with gifts left by friends and family members, ranging from crosses to flowers to soda bottles. A friend left a willow branch on Rogers’ father’s grave because he used to make baskets out of willow branches. Some of the graves had beer bottles on them. The Shivwits leave these gifts as a way to heal, Rogers said. 

“We can’t say that person was good or bad because we’re not all perfect,” Rogers said. “We don’t judge that. We just look at it and smile, and then you remember good things about that person.” 

The cemetery’s gate is often closed to keep trespassers out. A member of the tribe takes care of the cemetery, but Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, when the flags are changed, are its busiest days. 

In addition to the refreshing of the flags, Rogers will raise the flag to half-mast on Wednesday morning to honor the veterans buried at the cemetery. The DAR is planning a Wreaths Across America ceremony at the cemetery on Dec. 19.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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