BY CAM JANDROW WORCESTER
WORCESTER, Mass. – More than 160 volunteers, including members of the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, laid 5,000 American flags on the graves of veterans Wednesday at St. John’s Cemetery in Worcester.
“I just can’t put into words what this means and how important it is for us to stop one day, one day a year, and just remember those who made our lives possible,” said Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis.
The flag ceremony got it’s start in 2021, when COVID-19 limited people from putting flags on veteran’s graves. Evangelidis gathered volunteers from the Reserve Deputy Association, and while socially distanced, they set them up.
“A lot of communities, Boston particularly, said they were not allowing people to put flags on the graves of those who served our country on Memorial Day,” Evangelidis said. “It just seemed unthinkable.”
Lissa Haynes and Karen Belliveau were two of the volunteers laying flags Wednesday. They are members of Blue Star Mothers of America’s Central Massachusetts chapter, meaning, both of them had children who were in the service. Service is a tradition in their families so for them, Memorial Day is circled on their calendars every year.
“It’s just important,” said Belliveau. “It’s great to have the community and everybody understand how important it is to serve our veterans. Not just our children, us, but our veterans.”
“I’d wake up in the middle of the night and it would be like, ‘why am I waking up,” Haynes said of how difficult it is to have a child serving overseas. “What’s the matter? Why haven’t I heard? It would be two weeks I wouldn’t have heard anything and I call it my PTSD now when I think about it.”
Honoring those who served and have since passed ahead of Memorial Day has also become an annual tradition for John Hedly, who has two sons who are veterans themselves.
“It means so much to me,” Hedly said. “I’m lucky that I can be here to do this. I’ve done this for several years.”
Headley also served, spending more than 20 years in the Army, which is why it’s important he places the flags.
“We do it in memory of those guys who paid the supreme sacrifice and couldn’t be here to make our country what it is today,” Hedly said. “So I’m honored to be here to help remember that.”
Link to full Spectrum News Story: https://spectrumnews1.com/ma/worcester/news/2023/05/24/sheriff-flag-placement-worcester-memorial-day-0524