For over a decade, hundreds of volunteers have convened on the Boston Common to plant tens of thousands of flags in the leadup to Memorial Day. This year, 37,369 have been placed in the park, each one representing a service member from Massachusetts who gave their life since the Revolutionary War.

The Massachusetts Military Heroes Fund created the event in 2010. The group "got together to say, what can we do to have this living memorial where we can demonstrate a very outward facing response to recognizing the service and sacrifice of our fallen heroes," Brig. Gen. Jack Hammond told Under the Radar. "And so this is one of the best ways to do it on Memorial Day weekend ... hundreds of thousands of people will walk through there over the next few days and really see that visual support that we're providing in that commitment to our military families."

For surviving family members, the flag-planting is much more than just a symbolic act, it's also a moment of remembrance and celebration.

"My husband Brett loved a good ceremony," said Rhonda Garvin Conaway, spouse of a fallen Massachusetts service member. "And now here I am today, saying my husband's name. ... Thinking about that is very powerful and helped me put my pain somewhere to remember that I'm not alone. And for all the pain that I may have, another family also shares in that. And that unites us and bonds us in a way that reminds us of our humanity."


Jack Hammond, retired Brigadier General and executive director of Home Base, a nonprofit dedicated to veteran care, co-organizer of the Memorial Day Boston Common Flag Garden

Rhonda Garvin Conaway, spouse of a fallen Massachusetts service member