Veterans remembered at Mount Hope
Ceremonies draw only 20 to Mattapan
A small crowd gathered yesterday morning under blue skies in Mount Hope Cemetery in Mattapan, where graves were adorned with flowers and US flags, to remember the nation’s fallen veterans.
The annual Memorial Day observance, which began in 1921, has seen dwindling attendance in recent years. Yesterday’s ceremony drew only about 20 people.
“People get old, like me,’’ said Jim Lawler, an Air Force veteran who served in the Korean War. “They’re all under the ground.’’
John Shamps, an assistant sergeant-at-arms with the Department of Veterans Services, said he notices fewer young veterans becoming involved with veterans’ affairs.
“A lot of them now don’t want anything to do with the service,’’ after returning from war to find an absence of public and government appreciation, Shamps said.
With her twin 8-year-old sons in tow, Kate Anderson, a Suffolk County Auxiliary district secretary who grew up in a military family, attended the ceremony, as she has each year since childhood.
Anderson wondered why wars in Iraq and Afghanistan haven’t drawn a larger crowd.
“You would think, now that people are in active combat, that there would be more people,’’ she said.
The ceremony started shortly after 11 a.m., when a marching band made its way to the stage. In front of the stage, red, white and blue flowers formed the shape of an American flag.
Speakers representing Gold Star Mothers, the veterans services department, and the Boston City Council applauded the sacrifices made by veterans and encouraged citizens to be thankful.
“We must remember all of those who gave their lives so we could live ours,’’ said Eugene J. Vaillancourt, commissioner of Boston’s Veterans’ Services Department.
City Councilor Charles C. Yancey used his speech to discuss his appreciation for the veterans buried at Mount Hope.
He explained it was because of these soldiers “that this young man from Roxbury could become a city councilor.’’
The memorial included a musical interlude of songs from each branch of the military and a gun salute as taps was played.
Mary Anderson, an Army veteran and chairwoman of the Suffolk County Council Memorial Day Committee, watched as people perused the headstones of more than 12,000 veterans.
“Look around; what do you see? Memory,’’ Anderson said. “The sacrifice for freedom.’’