Family honoring COVID-19 victims with flags on their entire front yard

BOSTON — They’re known in Grafton for a large Christmas display, but now hundreds of people have been coming by to see their flag display.

"Each board has 25 holes that we drill ourselves the kids take the time to set the flags in them," said Grafton father Michael Labbe.

Each of the miniature U.S. flags sticks in his Keith Hill Road yard represents a Massachusetts person who has died of COVID-19. That number now up to 8,013, which the family says they are struggling each day to update.

“It’s pretty expensive,” said his daughter Melissa.

The family says they’ve spent hours of manpower and thousands of dollars. Despite taking their own COVID-19 financial hits, they say they are not accepting donations.

Still, the Labbe family has to put up more each day. They fear their already congested yard will get completely full.

“We are hoping it doesn’t go too much more but we may have to,” said Melissa.

“I think it’s nice for them to go through all the trouble of doing that to honor everyone,” said Janice Norsigian from Milbury. Her brother-in-law died from COVID-19.

It was a 15-minute drive for her but an hour for others.

"People have died in the hospital without families around so we just wanted to give back to them," said Melissa.

For the families coming to visit the flag display, the family has put up signs asking them to maintain social distancing and also thanking the men and women on the front lines calling them the true heroes.

“Sometimes it’s a veteran that will be like, ‘Thank you so much for doing this,’” said Melissa.

The Labbe’s are used to the attention.

"We always put up Christmas decorations around Christmas time and everyone always stops by," said Melissa.

Their other fear is this Christmas they’ll need both displays.

“I truly believe that this would unite us not just as neighbors not just as a family but as a country and the world,” said Michael. “That we would get united but look where we are today we are just the opposite. “You don’t have to see eye to eye but we should respect and honor each other human life. At the end of the day look at these flags these poor people don’t have their life to preach that.”

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