The display has become an attraction for people across the state, though the family asks visitors to keep their distance

By Georgia Slater
June 30, 2020 11:18 AM
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This Massachusetts family is making sure to honor coronavirus victims in their home state.

For every Massachusetts resident whose life was taken by the virus, the Labbe family in Grafton has planted an American flag in their front lawn to honor them.

The family told Boston 25 News that they are already up to 8,013 miniature flags in their yard, and the number is constantly growing.

“Never in a million years did I ever think we’d get to this number,” father Michael Labbe, 54, told the Milford Daily News. “We obviously prayed to be in the hundreds, not thousands. Unfortunately, sadly, it’s still growing.”

He explained to Boston 25 that in order to keep the flags standing upright, the family placed wooden boards on the lawn each with 25 drilled-in holes to hold the flags — Michael noting his kids have taken "the time to set the flags" in the holes.

"People have died in the hospital without families around so we just wanted to give back to them," Michael's daughter, Melissa, 15, said.

“That’s what it’s all about,” Michael told the Milford Daily News. “It’s about paying it forward in life."

He added, "Ninety-five percent of these people didn’t get to say goodbye to their mothers, their fathers, their brothers, their sisters, their children. And if they can pull up here and see that and it gives them a little bit of stress relief, or comfort, it’s worth every ounce of effort.”

And not only did the family express concerns over keeping up with all of the COVID-19 deaths and making enough room in their yard, the family revealed that the lawn display has also cost them thousands of dollars.

"It's pretty expensive," Melissa admitted. "We are hoping it doesn't go too much more but we may have to."

Despite the family dealing with their own financial struggles due to the pandemic, they refuse to accept any donations.

The Labbe's yard has become an attraction across the state, some driving over an hour to see the powerful display. The family is used to having visitors outside due to the large Christmas display they put up every holiday season.

"I think it’s nice for them to go through all the trouble of doing that to honor everyone,” local resident Janice Norsigian told Boston 25.

When arriving at the house, visitors are met with a large sign that reads, "Every flag you see represents each life taken here in Massachusetts by the faceless beast called coronavirus. Thank you to all the men and women on the front lines protecting us here and abroad. You are the true heroes.”

The sign also reminds visitors to maintain a safe social distance.

“This is probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done for anybody,” Michael's step-daughter, Camryn Fleming, 20, told the Milford Daily News. "It feels awful to put another flag in the ground, but it makes me feel like we’re there for them and we’d do anything for them.”

When the pandemic ends, Michael told the outlet that he hopes to sell the flags for $1 and donate the proceeds to charity.

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