Tributes to those who have served our country are beginning before Veterans Day. Fourteen-thousand American flags are now beside the markers at the State Veterans Cemetery, placed by volunteers and veterans on Saturday morning.
It was an emotional morning for the veterans at the cemetery in Middletown, as stars and stripes were put down beside those who defended the flag.
“It’s overwhelming, it really is. To see all these people doing this for us is overwhelming,” veteran Vernon Desrosiers said.
Desrosiers served in the Marine Corps in the 1970s. He knows the cemetery will be his final resting place as well.
“One day this will be my home,” he said. “Fourteen-thousand veterans here, just this one cemetery. And they’re at it every day. I live at The Shepherd Home, and I see the funeral processions go by all the time. And every time one does, I have to stand and salute.”
Also honoring his brothers and sisters in arms, Jay Bodell.
“Just to pay tribute to those who served before me, or with me, and didn’t make it home,” he said.
The Coast Guard veteran, now with the Middletown Police Department, also feels the power behind this tribute.
“You know, there’s a lot of people here who made way bigger sacrifices than I ever have or will, and it’s nice to see that they’re not forgotten,” Bodell said.
Not only do the 14,000 flags placed honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and served the country, but Saturday’s event also aimed to teach future generations about their service.
The boys in Cub Scout Pack 18 of Killingworth helped place flags, and feel inspired. Many chimed in about wanting to serve in the Army or the Navy when they get older.
They take the gravity of the sacrifice seriously.
“I’m really happy that all these people served, and I’m amazed at how many people really fought in wars,” one Cub said.
The veterans are also inspired by that younger generation.
“It’s also heartwarming to see especially so many younger kids here, learning about either a grandparent or somebody they don’t know, and what they did,” Bodell said.
They hope these children will tell stories of service for years to come.
“In the past we were not appreciated, especially those of us coming back from Vietnam, and we’re just now starting to make up for it,” Desrosiers said. “I hope that future generations will continue to show respect and honor us the way we deserve.”