New Markers and Flags at Laurel Hill Cemetery

Honoring Their Service

Reading, MA — Each year, a group of volunteers decorate Reading’s four cemeteries in preparation for Memorial Day. Each veteran receives a metal marker, and then the Scouts and other groups of young people will place a red geranium and attach a flag to the marker. The result is a spectacular display that pays tribute to the sacrifice that each of these Veterans has made for our country.

As the 250th anniversary of our nation’s birth approaches, many towns and cities are planning to commemorate the people and the events that led up to July 4, 1776. This year, 33 new Revolutionary War markers will be placed on the graves of all those who participated in that war and are buried here in Reading’s oldest cemetery, Laurel Hill. Each marker will be adorned with a flag used by our newly formed country – commonly called the Betsy Ross flag. It has a circle of 13 stars on a blue field and 13 red and white stripes. The new markers were funded by the Reading Preservation Trust, and the flags were donated anonymously by Reading citizens.

In the process of researching our Town’s history to confirm which graves should be marked as Revolutionary War soldiers, it was determined that Laurel Hill is also the resting place of ten individuals who fought in the Colonial Wars. These wars took place before the Revolutionary War when we were still a colony of Britain. They began with King Philip’s War in 1675, continued through several other conflicts, and ended with the French and Indian War in 1763. Those who fought in the Colonial Wars are not considered US Veterans. Why? – because the United States did not exist yet. But those men served to defend the land on which they had settled. New Colonial War markers are in the process of being forged. They will not be completed in time to display for this Memorial Day, but you will see flags prominently displayed at their headstones. Those flags, commonly called the King’s Colors flags, look similar to the current British flag and are the flag under which those Colonial Soldiers would have fought. After all, they were British citizens.

Of those ten Colonial War soldiers, five later served in the Revolutionary War. Therefore, they will have two markers (Colonial and Revolutionary) and two flags (King’s Colors and Betsy Ross) to commemorate their service in both! Thank you to the Reading Antiquarian Society, owners of Parker Tavern, for funding the Colonial markers. And again, the flags were anonymously donated. 

The Town of Reading and the Cemetery Department take great pride in all our cemeteries. And all of us should take pride in the history that those cemeteries represent. Those who have sacrificed to defend this country from its early days to today deserve our respect and gratitude. 

On Memorial Day, May 27, the parade will begin at the American Legion on Ash Street at 9:00, followed by services at Laurel Hill at 9:15, Forest Glen at 10:45, Charles Lawn at 11:30, and Wood End at 12:00. 

Walking tours will be conducted in June at Laurel Hill, sponsored by the Reading Antiquarian Society. Watch for further information with specific dates and times. These walks will visit the graves of the Revolutionary War soldiers, hear stories of their service and their families, and see photographs of some of their homes, many of which still exist. 

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