Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


October 17, 2013

Plenty to cheer about this fall

It’s not always the biggest gestures that are the most meaningful in a community.

And that’s the case with the efforts of a group of hardy souls a couple weekends ago.

Local veterans joined with Cub Scouts from packs 77 and 79 in town plus cadets with the Essex County Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron to make sure Andover’s deceased service men and women were given their proper due.

The group ignored the cold mist and rain to freshen up veterans’ graves with new American flags.

Michael Burke, the town’s director of veterans’ services, says the grave marking is a long-standing tradition in Andover.

Twice a year, volunteers fan out across the town’s 10 cemeteries to complete the task. Burke says more than 3,800 veterans who served from the Revolutionary War through the Global War on Terror are buried in Andover. Half of their graves get a new American flag during the first marking of the year occurring before Memorial Day, with the remaining half earning attention on the second go-around, leading up to Veterans Day.

Burke says by law, the flags on veterans’ graves must be changed annually. But we suspect it’s not the law that drives Burke and his team to adhere to the rule. There’s a greater sense of honor and obligation to those who have served our country that the task implies.

Burke says equally important is how the effort allows the town’s veterans to connect with local youths in meaningful ways.

The fact that Burke is instilling such patriotism in the town’s youngest residents by involving local Cub Scouts in the biannual marking of the graves is something we can all take immense pride in.

Red Sox bring excitement to fall

Fall is in the air in New England. The air is crisp and bright. Apples are ripe. The leaves are turning. This is our season to shine.

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