LEWISTON, Maine — Over 300 volunteers planted flags at the St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston ahead of Memorial Day, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. The Diocese says volunteers followed proper social distancing rules amid COVID-19 concerns.
Following a Memorial Day tradition, volunteers turned out to honor veterans buried at the St. Peter’s Cemetery in Lewiston to place flags on each veteran’s grave.
According to a Diocese press release, 360 volunteers came out for the event on Saturday, May 23, a record number. Attendees were spread out throughout the 70-acre cemetery to ensure proper social distancing.
“It’s just a gorgeous day, and it’s a gorgeous cause, and if you look around and see all those flags waving over the cemetery, it makes you feel good,” said Joyce Richmond, a member of the Lewiston & Auburn Veterans Council, which organized the effort. “I’m a Gold Star Mother, which means my daughter passed away while serving in the Air Force, so it’s very important to me to honor her especially, but I know what sacrifices these people have made. They’ve given their lives for us.”
RELATED: Maine Catholic churches to offer indoor, public masses with COVID-19 restrictions starting June 1.
Richmond said 4,000 American flags were given to volunteers who went row by row, each party wearing face masks and staying at least six feet apart, and reading the inscriptions to ensure no veteran’s grave was missed.
Volunteers at the event said it was important to honor the veterans despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think it’s really a time to remember everybody because of what we’ve gone through in the past and what we’re going through right now,” said Mary Beth Cloutier, whose father and father-in-law are both veterans. “It’s an emotional time.”
“I just want to be out here to help veterans,” says Jim Hodsdon of Lewiston. “We’re socially separated, and veterans need to be recognized.”
Amid COVID-19 concerns, volunteers gathered to place flags in honor of Maine's veterans for Memorial Day
Bagpipes played hymns from the different branches of the U.S. Armed Services at the event. The Diocese says community members plan to place flags on the graves of veterans at all of Lewiston’s 13 cemeteries.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus
NEWS CENTER Maine Coronavirus Coverage
RELATED: Orrington church denied restraining order against Governor Mills' coronavirus rules, still held outdoor in-person church service