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Monday, May 30, 2011

A Father’s Memorial Day Labor Of Love

By Alex Ashlock

BOURNE, Mass– On this Memorial Day, American flags are flying on the graves at the National Cemetery in Bourne, Massachusetts thanks to a man named Paul Monti. Paul’s son, Sgt. First Class Jared Monti, was killed in Afghanistan in 2006, while trying to save a buddy who had been seriously wounded.

Sgt. Monti was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery that day and he was buried in the Massachusetts National Cemetery in Bourne. But when his father visited the cemetery on Veterans Day that year, he was shocked to see there were no American flags on the graves.

“I’m overwhelmed at the support, the patriotism of all of you… As you place a flag,  say a small prayer for these veterans.
– Father Paul Monti, speaking to a crowd at Bourne National Cemetery

Cemetery rules prohibited the flags, because the grave markers are flush with the ground so anything placed above them makes maintenance difficult, especially when the grass needs to be cut. Paul Monti thought that was ridiculous, so he convinced officials to change the rules and he also started a project called Flags For Vets that came to fruition on Saturday, when hundreds of volunteers came to the cemetery and helped Paul Monti place flags on all of the more than 50,000 graves there.

They came by the busload, kids with their parents and their grandparents, sons and daughters whose fathers and mothers are buried at the cemetery, Boy Scouts and Vietnam veterans on Harleys. Many of them, in fact most of them, didn’t know Paul or Jared Monti.

“I’m overwhelmed at the support, the patriotism of all of you,” Paul Monti told the crowd. “This cemetery has been open for 31 years and never have they had flags on the individual graves here. In the crowd around you there are many Gold Star families. We are the ones who have lost someone near or dear to us. Many of us lost them in battle. Please as you place a flag say a small prayer for these veterans. Maybe if you could write down the names, go home and look them up on the Internet. You’ll be surprised what you will find.”

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  • Boston Citizen

    I am all for honoring our fallen, and I am very glad that all the graves will have flags, but when Paul Monti  PROUDLY talked about all the times his son stole things from others, I felt disgust. How could anyone think that stealing things is honorable?? All the good thoughts I had for Monti and the bravery of his son completely vanished when he said that his son was a common thief!

    • Another Mike

      I listened to the segment carefully. First, he took things from his family and friends to give to people who needed them more. But then he did liberate a couple of couches from the Army in a good cause. This follows an ancient tradition of scrounging. None of the thefts benefited him.

    • David Weller

      I’m not sure you were really listening, BC. Either that or you have a bizarre definition of the term “common thief.” He mislead his father about what he was doing with a tree because he didn’t want to trumpet the fact that he was acting charitably. He gave away a table and chairs that he partially owned to someone on a lower pay-grade than him and his roommates–someone who had children with no table at which to eat a meal–then he told his roommates what he did with it.

      He took some furniture from some common areas reserved for officers and gave it again to someone who needed it more.

      You may be able to question the legality of some of his acts. If you’re an extra stern person who knows nothing of love, you may be able to question the morality of some of his acts. But you cannot question his heart, and there is no way in the world you can by anyone’s legitimate definition call him a common thief.

      I think you’d be safe to find a way to rekindle your respect for this man, and his father. They have both given so much more than most of us.

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