That Girl’s Blog: Operation Flags For Vets

operation-flags-for-vets-2016dI spent a morning at the National Cemetery in Bourne this weekend. I wasn’t alone. Approximately 1,000 people from all over the region came to the cemetery on Saturday to help honor our lost military heroes. In a time of great division and, at times, indifference in our country, there was a quiet, but spirited display of Patriotism.

Gold Star Families were surrounded by veterans, cub scouts, bikers, and friends and families of all ages. We were greeted with an uplifting prayer from military chaplain, Major Paul Barnett . I am not a religious individual, but I found myself scrambling to set the recorder on my phone so I could remember the moment. I was not the only one trying to remember the moment. Photographers were respectfully working their way around the outskirts of the crowd as everyone recited the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a beautiful version of the Star Spangled Banner. I watched a wide-eyed baby grin over her mother’s shoulder as her mother applauded for each speaker.

Gold Star Father Paul Monti invited members of each branch of the military to place a single flag at a marble stone that reads: IN MEMORY OF THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO SERVED OUR COUNTRY IN THE ARMED FORCES. YOU STAND FREE BECAUSE THEY FOUGHT. There is anemblem fromeach branch of our military carved into its smooth surface. After these flags are placed, everyone is invited to work their way around the cemetery to place flags at each of the nearly 68,000 headstones for each of the nearly 68,000 men and women who are no longer with us, but still live among us in spirit.

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Today is a labor of love for Paul. When Paul lost his son Jared, he was told he could not place an American flag at his son’s grave. Jared was a Medal of Honor recipient who lost his life in Afghanistan on June 21, 2006. Paul Monti, along with every other Gold Star family, was denied this simple gesture of respect and remembrance. Paul fought through red tape for years. Paul won and was granted permission to place a flag for 1 week at his son’s grave. Paul won the right for ALL families to place flags at their loved one’s graves. So that’s what we do. We are all one family on this day.

We take bundles of flags and place a single flagat each stone. We give space and respect to the families, and also make sure no one is forgotten. We read the names of each person as we walk up and down each row. We teach young children about their grandparents and we remember our friends. We tell stories and we hug. There are smiles and there are tears.

In a matter of minutes, acres and acres of green grass are awash with gentle waves of red white and blue. The crowd of a thousand recedes to a few individuals seeking a quiet moment to reflect.

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Seven days: The flags will be removed next weekend and the cemetery will once again become a respectfully well-manicured memorial sight were stones and graves rest nestled in grass sometimes unseen by people passing by.

Please, take the time to visit this great place while the flags are up for our fallen heroes and lost loved ones. You don’t need to know any of them personally. So many of our soldiers do not personally know who they are fighting for, or whom they may give their life to protect, they stand and fight because it is their job to keep us safe. You, as a civilian, can make the smallest of gestures and show your support and your patriotism by your actions.

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Flag removal will take place on Sunday, November 13 at 10 AM, and volunteers are desperately needed.

Operation Flags for Vets is a program of the SFC Jared C. Monti Charitable Foundation established in memory of Medal of Honor recipient SFC Jared C. Monti; KIA Afghanistan 6-21-06. Donations to our foundation may be mailed to Paul Monti 408 Center Street, Raynham, MA 02767.

If you have a story or picture from Operation Flags for Our Vets, or a story about a loved one, please email me: CatWilson@ccb-media.com

About Cat Wilson

Cat Wilson is "That Girl" on Cape Country 104 – a Cape Cod native and longtime Cape radio personality. She is a passionate supporter of Military and Veteran causes on the Cape and also hosts local music spotlight program, “The Cheap Seats” on Ocean 104.7.


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