Many candidates spend a few hours putting together their Memorial Day statement, and it is a worthy and a wonderful undertaking -- but I wanted to do something different, something more hands on and tangible to show my appreciation.
So instead of spending a few hours on a well-polished letter, I spent those hours outside placing flags on veteran's graves at Woodbrook Cemetery with Woburn veterans, Boy Scouts, and fellow citizens.
Saturday morning was very warm and humid, but a group of about 15 people gathered at the maintenance building at 10 a.m. to assist the VFW. The number of people seemed small to cover such a vast area and undeserving of such a worthwhile task.
We found out the VFW and other volunteers had started placing flags at 8 a.m., but some areas still had not been covered. At first it seemed a shortage of flags would cut short the morning -- but as fate would have it, Winchester had excess flags, and a Boy Scout leader drove them over for us to use. While waiting for the flags, I walked toward the back of the cemetery and to my suprise I saw several men, woman and children placing flags on the graves of our fallen heroes. I had the privilege to shake hands and hear the stories of surviving heroes who were placing flags in memory of fallen friends and comrades.
No one seemed in a rush, and after the flags arrived one of the vets reviewed for us the markings on the graves noting service. During the 90 minutes it took for us to fan out and cover the grounds, we found graves to mark from those who served in Vietnam, Korea, World War II, World War I, and even one from the Civil War.
It was encouraging to hear parents talking with their children about respecting the flag, what it stood for, and what it meant to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect life and liberties for all of us to enjoy. As the children walked between head stones I could hear the excitement when they found an unflagged grave. As I watched I could see the smiles on their faces after successfully planting the flag in the grass or flag holder. As I watched silently, I could only hope that the lessons taught by parents to their children would be passed on to future generations.
This was the first time I heard of this opportunity to honor those who fought and gave their lives for the freedoms I enjoy daily. As I continued placing flags I reached the highest point in the cemetery. As I looked across the grounds I saw a sea of stars and stripes. So many had sacrificed everything to protect and secure the future for those they didn't know.
That day I made a promise. This would not be the last time I honor those who made the United State the greatest country in the world and made the American Dream a reality for me. Next year I plan to spend time at both Calvary and Woodbrook. This weekend, I hope you were able to find time to thank a family of someone who served or is now serving, and show your gratitude to those who entrusted you with the safe keeping of the liberties that made your country the greatest country in the world.