Center Grove teenager creates tribute to fallen veterans

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - A high school student on the south side is making sure fallen veterans are not forgotten.

Landon Blackwell took it upon himself to buy American flags to place on the graves of service members.

Hundreds of them.

It's something you might not expect from a teenager, spending free time at a cemetery and honoring those who sacrificed to keep us free.

But it fits Landon Blackwell perfectly.

"I would absolutely call myself a patriot, and a proud one at that,” Blackwell said.

It’s why the 15-year-old soon-to-be sophomore at Center Grove High School is on a mission at Mount Pleasant Cemetery.

Blackwell is determined to give a tangible tribute to Hoosier heroes, honoring military men and women, one flag at a time.

"I thought putting flags up would be the perfect way to acknowledge them for their service. After all they did for us, it seems right,” Blackwell said.

"Back in the beginning of April he said 'dad let's go put up some flags out on military graves',” said Landon’s dad, Brian Blackwell, a Greenwood police officer. I said, ‘well Memorial Day is coming up, we'll do that’. He responded, ‘why do we have to wait for Memorial Day, just one day a year to do this?’"

Landon believes veterans should be recognized every day. With donations and his own cash, he made his project happen.

"He had $130 in quarters, nickels and dimes,” Brian Blackwell said, "We then did a Gofundme page and got the additional for about $500 where we bought approximately 1,200 flags."

"When I come out here and I do this, I know I'm serving them because they served me. It makes me feel great doing all this,” Landon said.

But not everyone shares Landon's patriotism. Over Memorial Day weekend, vandals struck the cemetery.

"They just tore apart the flags that I put down, no idea why,” Landon said. “I assume they were kids my age. They're just taking these men and women's honor by doing it, I feel like. I don't see how anybody could do that, just take away flags? And from heroes?"

The crime didn't deter Landon. He was back at it Tuesday morning, flags rolled and folded in the duffel bag his grandfather used in the Navy, to replace what was taken away.

"To him, it's something he owes them,” his dad explained.

Landon also plans to be one of them. This young patriot has a purpose.

“I want to be an airman in the Air Force,” Landon said.

“He’s already done the Civil Air Patrol,” his dad added.

"I got my future definitely picked,” Landon said.

Landon's mission isn't over. He told Eyewitness News that he plans to put up more flags at more cemeteries all across Johnson County.

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