A thousand flags honor Massachusetts military heroes in a scaled-back Memorial Day observance


ARLINGTON, VA – MAY 24: Members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment place American flags at the graves of U.S. soldiers buried in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in preparation for Memorial Day May 24, 2012 in Arlington, Virginia. ‘Flags-In’ has become an annual ceremony since the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) was designated to be an Army’s official ceremonial unit in 1948. Every available soldier in the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment participates in these events. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Boston’s Memorial Day observance was smaller this year, because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the display was still just as powerful.

Volunteers worked overnight to place 1,000 American flags on the Boston Common — each one was six feet apart to encourage social distancing.

Traditionally, the area would be packed with 37,309 flags representing the Massachusetts men and women who have died serving the United States since the Revolutionary War.

The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund, which has organized the display for ten years, decided earlier this month that it would not be safe to put out that many flags because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The group urged people to fly flags at home, or print one out and display it in their window to create a virtual flag garden.

“Together, we can send a powerful message of support to bereaved military families that even in difficult times, we remember and honor our fallen heroes,” Diane Nealon the group’s executive director, said in a statement.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker visited the display on Monday and called it a “powerful tribute to the men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to their country, and to their families,” in a post on Twitter.

“While the dedication looked much different this year, the commitment to honoring and remembering remains,” the tweet said.

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