MILWAUKEE, Wis. – When Dawn Nadboralski lost her father, a sharpshooter with the US Army, it broke her heart.
“I’m a daddy’s girl,” she said. “I’m the only child, so when he passed, it hit me really hard.”
To help herself heal, Nadboralski went into her dad’s garage and started using his tools – turning old wooden pallets into American flags.
“It takes probably about an hour and a half and I paint them by hand,” she said. “I feel like in a way, it’s honoring my father.”
And at the same time, it’s honoring the lives of men that fought for this country.
Nadboralski sells the flags and donates that money to Forest Home Cemetery to buy headstones for Civil War soldiers who have unmarked graves.
“We don’t leave anyone behind even if they’re gone,” said Thomas Ludka, a military veteran.
Ludka and Maraget Berres work to find unmarked graves.
The headstones are free but cost $175 to install – money they say is well worth it.
“A man like him helped destroy slavery.” Ludka said while pointing out a gravesite of a Civil War soldier. “His life meant something. His service meant something. He should not be forgotten.”
So far, Nadboralski has sold 33 flags – raising enough money to buy 13 headstones.
“I feel like this is just a small thing I can do to give back,” she said.
Nadboralski’s big goal is to raise enough money to buy every unmarked grave a headstone.
“I do it all in my dad’s garage and I use his tools,” she said. “So, it’s kind of like he’s here helping me.”
To find out more about the American flags, email Nadboralski at