May 24--WINCHENDON -- As volunteers placed each of 3,000 American flags next to graves at the Massachusetts Veterans' Memorial Cemetery Wednesday afternoon, the flags danced in the wind, seeming to honor those buried there.
Richard Bastien, director of Massachusetts Veterans' Memorial Cemeteries, said volunteers came out to both the Winchendon and Agawam cemeteries during the day to place flags at all the graves of all the veterans and their family members buried there.
"It's very important for us here," he said. "As our volunteers are out here, they are repeating the names of every single person off the stones."
Over the course of the afternoon, every grave at the cemetery had a flag placed next to it, and the name of the person buried there repeated. The cemetery received help from a group from the American Legion Riders, a veterans motorcycle organization, United Parcel Service, former employees of the cemetery and family members and friends of those interred there.
"With Memorial Day coming up, it is important we take this time to make sure we are recognizing those who sacrificed the ultimate price for our nation's liberty and freedom," Mr. Bastien said.
Volunteers worked in pairs, one with a tool to measure and make a hole the exact same distance from the stones as all other graves. The other person would then place a flag in the hole in the ground.
Mr. Bastien said people often think of the two state veterans cemeteries as being for Winchedon and Agawam residents, but there are people buried in those cemeteries from 252 of the state's 351 cities and towns.
"It's important to recognize it is not just these communities, but almost all (communities) have people here," he said.
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