GUILFORD - About 500 forgotten veterans, buried in the town’s seven cemeteries, will be honored with a metal flag holder denoting their service to the country.
“There are many veterans, in town, who are buried who do not have their military service indicated on their tombstones and are often overlooked during memorial services,” said Tracy Tomaselli.
While there are 1,100 recognized veteran burial sites throughout town, there also exist an estimated 500 veterans lacking any type of veteran marker.
Traditionally, VFW Post 7666 places miniature American flags at all veteran burial sites on Memorial Day. In addition, these are decorated with wreaths in December, courtesy of the Ethan Song Wreaths Across Guilford program.
The new flag holders are engraved with “Donated by the Ethan Miller Song Foundation” and “VETERAN,” along with a picture of an American flag.
Already, 150 markers have been placed in Alder Brook Cemetery and also have the name of the cemetery on them.
Researching the veterans was a labor of love for Tomaselli, a genealogist, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, DAR and National Society of Children of the American Revolution, NSCAR, who grew up in town.
In addition, Tomaselli is on the Alder Brook Cemetery board of directors.
This new project is funded by the Ethan Miller Song Foundation, with additional funding from the Guilford Preservation Association.
Mike and Kristin Song created the foundation after the accidental shooting death of their son, Ethan, on Jan. 31, 2018.
“Ethan wanted to join the Army and so he had such a strong respect and affinity for veterans and people who were serving in the military,” said Kristin Song.
Tomaselli and Song encourage individuals to contact them with requests to place the plaques at gravesites.
For Kelly Carregal, it is an honor long overdue for her father, Thomas Maher, a United States Air Force veteran buried at Alder Brook Cemetery.
“It was just bothering us that there was nothing there to acknowledge that he was in the Air Force,” the Guilford resident said.
Then she saw a post on Facebook announcing this opportunity.
“This is the sign we were waiting for,” she said.
Then she was sent a photo of the marker next to her dad’s gravestone. “I had tears in my eyes, it was really special,” she said.
Tomaselli believes all veterans should be recognized and is working towards that goal.
“We want to make sure these forgotten veterans are no longer overlooked,” she said. “They range from the American Revolution all the way to present day.
“These men and women served our country and we honor veterans on Memorial Day and in December,” she added, “and I want to make sure we honor as many as we can and don’t overlook any.”