BOURNE – In a solemn ceremony with the Patriot Guard Riders holding 50 American Flags, names of recently deceased veterans buried at the Massachusetts National Cemetery were read. All 48 veterans were given full military honors.
These “unattached veterans” each has a story, said Barbara Cellucci, a cemetery representative and volunteer coordinator. Some have been given a memorial service in another state. and then their remains were sent to be buried in Massachusetts, she said.
Some have died alone with no living relatives, said Cellucci. And some have died indigent in a VA hospital, or homeless, she said.
As Cemetery Director John Spruyt said in his opening remarks, “Whatever the reason is not important.”
For this day, they were not alone.
After the ceremony, Spruyt said of the Patriot Guard Riders, “These are those veteran’s families.”
After all of the names, and the branch of service the person served, was read, there was a dignified formal folding and presentation of the flag, and then a rifle volley by the 102nd Intelligence Wing Base Honor Guard. The Marine Corps League also provide a rifle volley. And there was a patriotic medley by trumpet player George Allen.
The ceremony is held about four times a year, explained Spruyt after the ceremony. On average, about 25 veterans are honored at each ceremony.
It began in 2014, said Cellucci, when a funeral home near Boston sent seven urns, remains of veterans, to the cemetery. Some of those veterans dated back to World War I, she said. They had no living relatives.
Cellucci cited the generosity of funeral homes, especially near the VA hospital in Boston, in taking care of the remains of unattached veterans.
And while some of these veterans may have had a memorial service somewhere else, and some may have not, Spruyt decided to have a ceremony at their final resting place because, “Every veteran is entitled to military honors and the folding and presentation of the flag.”
So he contacted the Patriot Guard Riders, a nationwide group of motorcycle enthusiasts who who formed in 2005 to protect veteran’s funerals from protests by the Westboro Baptist Church.
The group has expanded into a nationwide organization of 300,000 members, who honor veterans who pass, especially those killed in action
Not all members of the Patriot Guard Riders are veterans, said Howard Shrut, state captain of the Patriot Guard Riders in Massachusetts. All want to honor veterans, he said.
Shrut said of this event, “This is the epitome of our motto: ‘Standing for those who stood for US.”
In addition to the No Veteran Forgotten ceremony, there was a laying of a wreath in honor of Korean War Veterans. The Korean War ended 63 years ago, on July 27, 1953.
And Shrut was honored for his service to the Patriot Guard Riders. He received a book and three plaques commending his service, including one signed by Governor Charlie Baker.
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