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Flags on veterans’ graves at Fairview Cemetery in Westford, ahead of Memorial Day weekend.  (SUN/Julia Malakie)
Flags on veterans’ graves at Fairview Cemetery in Westford, ahead of Memorial Day weekend. (SUN/Julia Malakie)
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Westford’s appreciation for its military veterans is on display throughout the year, but especially so at Memorial Day. Traditionally, the town of Westford holds a Memorial Day service on the Sunday preceding the last Monday in May. Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was created after the Civil War to recognize veterans who sacrificed their lives for our country. Across the nation flowers were placed on the graves of soldiers honoring their military service.

We continue to honor our Westford veterans today by placing American flags on the graves of veterans throughout the seven town cemeteries. (For a complete list of veterans buried in Westford visit https://data.westfordma.gov/vets.)

In Westford, Memorial Day traditions are observed on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend beginning early in the day as Westford-based veterans service organizations, the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, along with town color guards render honors by placing wreaths on military memorials located in each of the villages — Forge Village, Graniteville and Nabnasset.

Following the village tributes, residents gather at the band stand on the Town Common to hear community volunteers read the Honor Roll, a list of Westford veterans now deceased who served in all conflicts back to the Revolutionary War. (For a full list see https://data.westfordma.gov/honorroll).

A solemn Memorial Day procession follows in town center, rendering honors at each of the war memorials on the Common. When completed, ceremonies held at the Band Stand on the Common continue to mark the occasion, including participation from town officials, scout troops and musicians from Westford Academy.

Westford has long been a community that recognizes the contribution of veterans with local memorials, monuments and signs of recognition. In recent years efforts of Westford Remembers, Inc., a charitable organization in town, have helped with maintaining and restoring existing town memorials as well as planning for future patriotic monuments. As part of the ongoing effort, the group initiated a veteran sign/T-shirt fundraising project first used on Veterans Day 2021. The campaign placed 87 “Thank You to Our Veterans” signs around the Town Common preceding the Veterans Day service held on Nov. 11.

The Westford Select Board recently granted Westford Remembers permission to continue displaying veterans signs on the days preceding Memorial Day and Veterans Day this year. Existing signs will be placed around the Common. New signs were available to those who were able to donate to the fundraising effort for the town’s memorials.

Westford Remembers can be contacted via westfordremembers01886@gmail.com.

Senior Chief Terry M. Stader, U.S. Navy, retired, served as veterans service officer in Westford.

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