Patriotism blossomed at Patriot Place in advance of Memorial Day when Americans honor those who sacrificed their lives for their country.
Robert Kraft, chairman and CEO of The Kraft Group, owner of the New England Patriots and New England Revolution and builder of Patriot Place, and other officials took a few minutes to stop what they were doing to pay homage to those who made what they are doing possible — the men and women of the U.S. military.
They honored those who have served and been killed in war, those who made it home wounded in mind and body, those who made it home after losing brothers and sisters-in-arms and those who are serving today.
Kraft, his son Josh Kraft, president of Kraft Philanthropies, Brian Earley, vice president and general manager of NPP Development Patriot Place, and Ally Rodriguez, director of veterans services in Foxboro, placed a red, white and blue wreath of flowers at a flag garden located in the Gillette Stadium overlook at Patriot Place.
There are 263 flags in the garden and each honors a member of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marines or Coast Guard who participated in wars stretching from the Civil War, which ended 156 years ago, to the more recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The names of those honored were submitted by family members mostly from Massachusetts, but also from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire and as far away as California.
Each person’s name, military branch, hometown, war and whether they died while in the service are printed on signs adjacent to the garden.
Out of those 263, 72 gave their lives while in the service.
All told, 2,000 flags were planted at various spots at Patriot Place to commemorate Memorial Day.
While officials at Patriot Place have constructed other memorials in the past, the ceremony that took place at 11 a.m. Friday was the first formal one.
Rodriquez gave a brief history of the origins of Memorial Day which dates back to the Civil War, America’s deadliest. At least 620,000 and some say as many as 700,000 Americans died in it.
It became an official federal holiday 50 years ago, in 1971.
Rodriquez said Memorial Day can often be a “somber day,” but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed.
“It’s OK to laugh and fire up the grill and celebrate,” she said. “But it’s important to remember those who never made it home.”