Monday, May 28, 2012

Since coming home from the Vietnam War, Frank Casimiro has made a point to put U.S. flags at the gravesites of military veterans.

Now in his fifth year as the Veterans Graves Officer for Fall River, Casimiro coordinates the program which saw 10,300 flags placed at various cemeteries around the city.

“When I started doing it it was all the World War II guys,” said Casimiro. “When the Vietnam Vets came home we were not appreciated.

Patriotism wasn’t in the country anymore. It was the World War II guys that got us to join the veterans groups and showed us the importance of honoring veterans.”

State law requires all deceased veterans get a flag for their gravesite on Memorial Day. The city purchases the flags and then gets reimbursed from the state. Each cemetery has its own rules about how long the flags will remain at the gravesite.

Casimiro has heard from family members of deceased veterans that appreciate the gesture. On Friday, volunteer George Yentz was distributing flags when he noticed a lady in her 90s getting out of her car. Yentz stopped what he was doing, helped the elderly lady get out of her car and place flowers at her husband’s gravesite.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Casimiro said. “You read these headstones. Guys served in World War I, World War II, Korea and the Spanish-American War. It’s a great thing to honor these veterans.”

Casimiro would like to see younger veterans get involved in the tradition. He hopes that leading by example will encourage the Gulf War veterans to become more active.

“We’re not seeing the young vets,” Casimiro said. “Their not joining the ranks. We’re all in our 60s and won’t be able to do this forever.”

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