Honoring the veterans

Kristen Traynor

“Our flags that mark our veterans’ graves, ” said Jean Chrest, “they stay up all year.” She remarked on how well the American Legion, Boy Scouts and the Veterans of Foreign Wars look after the veterans’ graves. DAVID RANUCCI | SUMMER KENT STATER

Credit: DKS Editors

A lonely flag lies on the shelf in the back of Jean Chrest’s white car, saved for an occasion she might find a veteran’s grave without one.

Flags, bronze-colored markers and red, white and blue flowers decorate the graves of veterans from the Civil War, to World War II, to the Persian Gulf War around Standing Rock Cemetery in Kent.

“We don’t have a specific place for veterans,” said Chrest, the cemetery’s clerk treasurer. “We like to treat everybody the same.”

Chrest said she has worked at the cemetery for six years, and she and the rest of the staff do everything they can to make sure veterans get the proper markers and flag decorations they deserve. This includes the flag in her car, awaiting its purpose.

Standing Rock Cemetery hosts a ceremony each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, when the Connecticut Western Reserve Volunteer Militia sets off a cannon. The cannon is stored at the cemetery but only taken out on special occasions. A replica sits in the Veterans’ Circle all year as part of the memorial for American soldiers of the past.

As Chrest walked around the peaceful Veterans’ Circle, she said the Fourth of July is one of her favorite holidays because of all the red, white and blue.

“The Fourth of July is an important day,” Chrest said. “It belongs to everybody, not just the veterans.”

Chrest said she thinks American citizens should do more to celebrate the holiday.

“I remember as a kid there being a lot of parades on the Fourth of July, and I don’t think you see that as much today as you did say 15 years ago,” Chrest said.

She went on to describe the parade celebrations she attended in the past on Independence Day.

“I remember going to Fourth of July parades, and just like at Memorial Day, they throw the candy, you’ve got the flags, the firecrackers, you know, all that stuff,” Chrest said. “But I don’t notice it as much now, and I think that’s a shame.”