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coronavirus in massachusetts

Mass. Family Honors Lives Lost to Coronavirus With Lawn Flag Display

Mike Labbe has planted more than 8,000 American flags in his Grafton yard to represent each Massachusetts resident who has died from coronavirus

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On a weekend marked by American flags and fireworks, one of the biggest displays of red, white and blue in Massachusetts is growing on a green lawn in Grafton.

Today, Mike Labbe says he can barely keep count of the tribute he started at his home months ago.

"We just got 1,800 in, and I got another 1,200 on back order," Labbe said. "We put our first flags out about six days after the first death."

It was the first death from COVID-19 in Massachusetts that marked the start of his memorial, that has since grown to more than 8,000 flags.

"We definitely didn’t expect it to grow this big," Labbe's wife said.

Together with his wife and kids, the Labbe family pays for and plants every single one, every single week that another life is lost.

"Mike is a true patriot. Everything is American flag, all about red, white and blue and this was his idea to honor the lives lost," Labbe's wife said. 

As a former EMT and firefighter, Labbe wanted to pay his respects to those who couldn't be saved across the commonwealth.

"I’d say out of all these flags, maybe a quarter of them got to have a burial service," he said.

As many celebrate the Fourth of July holiday this weekend, Labbe hopes people will remember just how many others won't get to see it.

"We haven’t lost any of our family members, thank God, but it doesn’t matter they are my fellow Americans," he said. "You know, at the end of the day that’s what they are." 

As of Friday, the state's death toll stands at 8,149, according to the Department of Public Health.

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