NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — On the cold wet Thursday morning veterans honored other veterans. Walking though wet grass they placed American flags at their grave sites. A tradition the group of volunteers continues every year rain or shine.
“It’s so cool because you have World Wars, you have the Korean conflict, and you have almost every war going in this cemetery,” said volunteer Kathie Cassidy whose husband served in Operation Desert Storm.
They place nearly three thousand flags at St. Mary’s and Cedar Grove cemeteries.
“It’s heart breaking every year but it’s got to be done,” said William Smith who was in the Marine Corps. He served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1970.
“They fought for the country,” said Smith. “Whether they went overseas or stayed home they’re still veterans.”
He’s been organizing this effort for several years. The city supplies the flags. Volunteers with the VFW place them.
“Sad,” Smith reflected. “You know because you look at them. You look at all these flags out here. Thousands of them.”
“Just an honor just to remember who came before us and just never forget,” said veteran Joey Hancock.
He is also currently serving in the 103rd Air Lift Wing of the Air National Guard. For him this mission feels personal.
“People I went to school with, people that I knew, people that I’ve actually performed honor guards for at their burials,” said Hancock. “It’s touching it’s touching and it’s just rewarding. It’s my way of giving back.”
“A lot of them didn’t even get a chance to grow up for one thing,” said Smith. “A lot of of them lived a good life after service.”
The flags will stay up all year round. The volunteers say they replace any of them which are tattered.