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5 Questions: Volunteers with Concord Veterans Council spruce up graves of servicemen, women

Every spring, the Concord Veterans Council recruits volunteers to place fresh American flags at the graves of servicemen and women in the 14 cemeteries in the city. And every year, thanks to close attention and a little detective work, the list of veterans’ graves grows, says Ned Brooks, the council secretary.

How many flags did you and your volunteers place this year? In total, 4,000. When I first started, we were using about 20 gross, with 144 in a gross. Now we’re up to 28 gross. It’s more than just replacing the old flags with the new. We’ve orchestrated a system where we send people out in blocks, and they make notations if they find new veterans’ graves or graves that have been missed. We’re adding to the list every year, and then we give the list to the city to update the records.

How do you find a grave that has been missed before, and how would you know it belongs to a veteran? You have to look for a foot plate or a ground plate, a brass plate normally provided by the government, though some families didn’t always ask for them, or in the older times, World War I or before, the government didn’t offer them. The older stones are very hard to read, so it takes a concerted effort to take your time, and look, some-

times the families made notations on the back of the stone saying the person was in a certain calvary.

How many veterans’ graves do you think are still uncounted in the city? Oh, I don’t know. We keep improving every year, we seem to add between 100 and 200 every year.

And it’s all done by volunteers? It’s quite a task, so we have volunteers do separate cemeteries. Saturday, we had so many that I lost count around 25. I’ve been doing it for six years, and this was the biggest group I’ve ever seen.

Are any of the 14 veteran cemeteries not as well known, off the beaten path at all? Yes, there’s the ones everyone knows, Blossom Hill and Old North Cemetery on North State Street, but there’s Horse Hill Cemetery, that’s on Elm Street, off Bog Road. It’s primarily Revolutionary War, Spanish-American War and Civil War veterans there.

There’s also Millville, just past St. Paul’s School on Pleasant Street.

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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