The , dating back to 1672, has approximately 35,000 Milton residents and Milton decedents buried on its grounds. Thousands of those buried are war veterans from all major American conflicts ranging from the Revolutionary War to the War in Iraq.
These service men and women will be honored this Monday during the town’s annual Memorial Day Observance Ceremony. The preparation done by the Cemetery Board of Trustees, the cemetery’s Superintendent, the Administrative Assistant and staff for Monday’s event show the real importance of paying tribute.
Along with a headstone, the graves of veterans are adorned with government-issued flag holders, markers on the headstone or foot made of bronze or aluminum and an emblem indicating which war they served in. As Superintendent Therese Desmond-Sills estimates, about 2,500 small American flags are placed in the flag holders on the days leading up to Memorial Day by the administrative staff. There are also wreaths placed on grave sites and in front of the burial grounds that remain all year.
A special guest speaker at this year’s ceremony will be Army Captain Lindsey Elder who is currently serving with Boston University’s Army ROTC Charles River Battalion. The young army captain has been awarded the Bronze Star and can give a new perspective on what it means to serve both as a woman and at such a young age.
This year’s ceremony will pay special attention to honoring the soldiers of World War II, of which the cemetery has the highest number of buried veterans. Like Captain Elder, many veterans in the cemetery have won military decorations. As Administrative Assistant Meg Toyias indicated, two buried members, Paul Weinert and Edward Gisburne, were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the U.S. military’s highest honor.
The decorations and ceremony hold special significance for Cemetery Trustee Bob Mason.
“There’s a ton of history here” said Mason, a veteran of the Vietnam War himself. “I’m so passionate about this place”.
Mason, a retired member of the who has lived in Milton all his life, is a Cemetery Trustee and a member of the Celebration of Holidays Committee. The self proclaimed “outspoken” Milton resident pointed out that there are now two designated burial grounds for veterans.
“A new government ruling states that spouses of vets can now be buried with them (the veterans),” explained Mason, “So we created a new section about a year ago in the cemetery as well as our old veteran burial ground."
For those who organize the Memorial Day Observance, including the Milton Fire and Police Department, American Legion Post 114, Legion member Frank Stout and many others, the goal is to pay respect to those who have protected our country and who truly are “America’s heroes."
“It’s important to show support,” said Superintendent Sills.
Adding to her sentiments, Mason proclaimed, “It’s always important. You go to the school you want, you live in the town you want, you enjoy a beautiful day…you should thank a vet."
The annual Memorial Day Observance will commence Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. at , with a procession down Centre Street to Milton Cemetery.