People ask me, ‘Out of everything you do, what do you enjoy the most?’. My favorite thing and something I truly enjoy is being the Veteran Grave Officer for the Town of Newbury. The role, as outlined by M.G.L Chapter 115; Section 9, is more then just placing flags for Memorial Day.
It’s providing care and honor for those veterans who have come before me. Making sure they are given the respect and the care they deserve. Making sure graves are clean, up kept and cared for. The job also outlines the ability to do repairing, replacement and general up-keep of fences around their graves and the raising and repairing of sunken grave stones and markers; only limited to veteran graves. And by my understanding, with no additional outside authority needed.
Placing flags brought to me a burying ground that was in much need, our veteran graves in the burying ground were not being cared for, and needed addressing. Many still do, and they will be addressed and cared for under my guidance. That Burying Ground project has provided me an opportunity to meet with several professionals to learn the skills to make my job easier for the Town. Instead of spending money to hire a professional every time a veteran grave in needs addressing. I’m taking the time to be trained and guided by professionals with 20+ years experience or more so I’ll have the ability to perform the job myself if need be and save on expenses in the future.
In addition to the role as outlined by the State, I’ve also added to the role other ways for me to honor our veterans through the Wreaths Across America program. This year 48% of the veteran graves in town will get a wreath for the holiday. That’s up from the 20% last year.
I’ve also added to my job taking care and properly disposing of the American Flag. Since I probably work with the American Flag more then anyone else in town. I started a flag collection box so I personally make sure flags in town are being properly disposed off.
I take a lot of pride in making sure our veteran graves in town get the respect and care they deserve. One by one every veteran grave will get a proper review and determined if there are any needs that may need addressing. One of the most interesting part of the role is researching the veterans and compiling a database. Which at this point does not currently exist in the town; and soon will be. Through the process I have gotten to learn about of these veterans; almost on a personal level, as if I knew them. That itself is amazing.
So, for those curious… being the Newbury Veteran Grave Officer is without a doubt one of my favorite things I do.