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New monument adds to Avenue of Flags at Prairie Lawn

Prairie Lawn marker replaces flag nameplates

News editor

Peabody American Legion members had little idea when they created a Memorial Day weekend Avenue of Flags at Prairie Lawn Cemetery what it might grow into.

“This whole Avenue of Flags started with one day and 35 flags,” Fred Saenz said.

Organizers thought they could accommodate 80 to 100 flags, each dedicated with a nameplate honoring a fallen service member.

Monday, volunteers set up poles for 231 flags that will be hoisted Friday and fly through the holiday.

Instead of temporary nameplates, however, a new four-panel stone monument with engraved names and a central pillar will be a year-round memorial to service members interred at the cemetery.

The monument is born of both honor and necessity.

“All of where we had electricity was filled up,” post adjutant Larry Watts said. “We were discussing whether to try to put more poles and lights up, and thinking if we got too much bigger than we are now, things would implode.”

Having the monument will make setting up the display easier, Watts said.

“Our troops are few and old now,” he said. “We thought this would be one way to keep it alive. Honestly, if it wasn’t for the good volunteer help we get from the community, it would be almost impossible to get those poles up and the flags flown.”

A central stone displays Army, Navy, Marine, Air Force, and American Legion emblems. Names are engraved on four additional stones, with room to add names as needed.

“We have 300 or so total names of veterans buried whose graves we decorate with a flag and cross,” Watts said. “We’re starting to lose Vietnam veterans now.”

The stones were installed about two weeks ago, with landscaping and flagpoles to be added soon.

“There’s stuff we have to tweak on this, I’m sure,” Watts said. “It’s going to look really nice when we get it completed.”

Weather permitting, lighting installation will be completed Thursday. Flags will be put up Friday evening and fly through Memorial Day.

Last modified May 24, 2017

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