Memorial Day Weekend

Community Members Continue Decades-Long Tradition at Conn. State Veterans Cemetery

Hundreds of families came out to Connecticut State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown on Saturday to help place 12,000 American flags throughout the site.

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There are tributes happening across the country Saturday and all weekend long for Memorial Day, including a nearly 40-year tradition in Middletown.

Since 1985, veterans have come out to the Connecticut State Veterans Cemetery to place an American flag by each gravesite.

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It wasn't until a couple years ago that it became a community-wide effort. To this day, people arrive in numbers to honor veterans no longer with us.

On Saturday, there was also a moment of silence for the lives lost and families impacted by the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, earlier this week.

After, community members from near and far grabbed their flags and distributed nearly 12,000 of them throughout the site.

"His name is William," said Portland mother Sarah Walden. "Thank you, William. Thank you, William," echoed her young sons.

This year was Walden's first time at the event. She and her sons, Isaac and Ethan, were there to honor their great-grandpa who served in World War II. 

"I just always wanted to come here and show my respect to everybody that fought for us and fought for our freedom," said Walden.

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Ron Nanfito, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1966 to 1970, helps run the event. 

"It used to take us a day, day and a half. I think two years, it was done in 37 minutes," said Nanfito.

That's after The Veterans of Vietnam, Middletown, Inc. asked the public for help, and every Memorial Day Weekend they continue to show up. People of all ages, especially, children eager to help. 

"I like putting the flags on the ground because when I get older I want to be in the military," said Eagle Scout Maxton Ripp, of Killingworth.

"All those people who have been in the war, who have died fighting for us...We're here to support them," said Eagle Scout Hunter Tyrseck, of Killingworth.

Larry Riley, who served in the Vietnam Airforce from 1966 to 1970, says Memorial Day is a time to pause and appreciate the brave.

"We want to make sure nobody forgets. What they did and why they served and keep this going because without them we wouldn't be here," said Riley.

If you couldn't make it out Saturday, any and all support is welcome next Saturday to collect the flags at 9 a.m. You don't need to register or call. Volunteers can show up.

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