As deaths from the novel coronavirus rose past 8,000 in Massachusetts last week, a family has crafted a special way to honor those who have lost their lives to the illness, and provide a place of reflection for their loved ones.
The Labbe family of Grafton, MA placed a flag in their front lawn for each person who died of the virus—a total of 8,013.
"Each board has 25 holes that we drill ourselves,” Michael Labbe told Boston 25. “The kids take the time to set the flags in them.”
Labbe, 54, spent much of his life giving back to the community. He worked as an EMT in Worcester and Milford, a firefighter in Uxbridge and a police officer in Spartanburg, South Carolina, before starting his own business All Phase Glass & Maintenance, according to the Worcester Telegram.
For visitors to the display, the family has put up signs asking them to follow social distancing guidelines, as well as thanking the men and women on the front lines, praising them as true heroes.
“I think it’s nice for them to go through all the trouble of doing that to honor everyone,” said Janice Norsigian of Milbury, MA. She lost her brother-in-law to COVID-19.
The family says they’ve spent hours of work and thousands of dollars on the project. Despite taking their own financial hits during the pandemic, they are refusing to accept donations.
While Michael’s daughter Melissa acknowledged that their efforts have been quite an expensive undertaking for the family, their biggest fear is that the lawn will no longer have the space to fit enough flags to honor each victim.
The Labbes are known for their elaborate Christmas decor that draws crowds in the hundreds each year. With coronavirus presenting itself as an issue to stay, the family is not sure how they will have the room to manpower to keep up both displays.
“You don’t have to see eye to eye but we should respect and honor each other's human life,” said Michael. “At the end of the day look at these flags these poor people don’t have their life to preach that.”