500 flags made by veterans at center of one woman’s tribute in Charlestown

When Mary Gillen learned the ceremony on Boston Common was cancelled, she ordered 500 flags -- all of them made by veterans -- and placed at Doherty Park in Charlestown for neighbors and anyone else to enjoy.

BOSTON — Every Memorial Day, flags flood the Boston Common. More than 37,000 flutter in light spring breezes to honor fallen service heroes.

Mary Gillen from Charlestown goes to what’s called the Heroes Garden every year.

“Those who have fought for us and have left us a fighting spirit. So, this is what we’re about," Gillen said.

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But this year the event to honor those heroes fell victim to COVID-19.

“Right now, I feel like the pandemic has taken a lot from everyone and right now we need a little something to celebrate," says Gillen.

Gillen, who works at Mass General as a respiratory therapist and battles COVID-19 everyday, had enough.

“That kind of hit a chord with me so I figured I’d buy my own flags and let our community enjoy a heroes garden here in Charlestown,” she said.

When Gillen learned the ceremony on Boston Common was cancelled, she ordered 500 flags -- all of them made by veterans -- and placed at Doherty Park in Charlestown for neighbors and anyone else to enjoy.

Peggy Sindoris is thrilled with the idea.

“I love it. Mary acted. She’s always doing something for other people. Always doing something.. something good for people,” she said.

Military blood runs in Gillen’s family. She told Boston 25, “My brother is a former Marine. My husband’s uncle was Commander of the USS Constitution. And I have many in-laws that have served for us.”

So this gesture honors them, helps her neighbors and it helps Gillen, too.

“This makes me smile and that’s what we need right now. We need a little happiness and we need something to celebrate. And it just makes me feel good,” she said, smiling broadly as her neighbors enjoy the mini-Heroes Park.

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