Massachusetts Remembers Veterans At National Cemetery

Massachusetts National Cemetery . (WBUR/Alex Ashlock)
Massachusetts National Cemetery . (Alex Ashlock/WBUR)

They came again by the hundreds. Young, old, Boy Scout troops, Girl Scouts, a decorated Army veteran who held his young grandson's hand.

They answered a father's call to place American flags on the graves of more than 50,000 veterans at the Massachusetts National Cemetery on Cape Cod.

Paul Monti of Raynham, Mass. started Operation Flags For Vets after his son Jared was killed in Afghanistan and was buried at the cemetery in Bourne. One Veteran's Day, he noticed there were no flags on the graves. Cemetery rules prohibited them because it made maintenance too difficult. Monti eventually wore them down and they changed the rules.

The next challenge was raising money to buy 50,000 flags and then convince volunteers to place them on the graves. That happened for the first time last Memorial Day and again on Veteran's Day 2011.

Then, for third time, on Saturday morning, as the fog lifted on the Cape, the volunteers fanned out across the rolling acres of the cemetery to again make this father's labor of love a reality.

As Monti's brother Matthew said, "We want to make this a tradition."

Donald McRae was at the cemetery with his grandson. McRae served 32 years in the Army, including tours in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"What I am trying to do is bring my young kids out to see the history," McRae said. "If you ask kids today, they really don't know much about World War II or Vietnam."

McRae's father served in the second World War and his brother in Vietnam. He told me he knows 13 men whose names are etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington.

This program aired on May 26, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Alex Ashlock Producer, Here & Now
Alex Ashlock was a producer for Here & Now since 2005. He started his WBUR career as senior producer of Morning Edition in 1998.



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