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'We Didn't Shut Down': Organization Remembers Gold Star Family Ahead Of Memorial Day

BOSTON (CBS) -- Boston Common is usually lined with American flags for Memorial Day, honoring those who gave their lives for their country. The coronavirus pandemic prevented that display this year, but an organization dedicated to remembering those who died in Iraq and Afghanistan is keeping the tradition going with a smaller display in Boston's Seaport neighborhood. It is also the site of a special ceremony for a local Gold Star family.

Jason Farrar, a Marine Veteran from Weymouth, shows off the sea of flags in front of the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes Memorial on Northern Avenue in the Seaport.

"This flag right here represents my brother," he said pointing to the United States Marine Corps flag grouped around dozens of flags from all the military branches. Each one represents a local hero who died for their country.

Farrar now works for the organization responsible for the flag display and the permanent memorial, a spire that reaches several stories into the air surrounded by a tranquil water feature with a small waterfall.

Massachusetts Fallen Heroes set up an American flag display in Seaport (WBZ-TV)

Massachusetts Fallen Heroes is dedicated to remembering soldiers like Farrar's brother, Marine Sgt. Andrew Farrar Jr., who was killed in Iraq 15 years ago. They also offer support to Gold Star families like "making sure other people don't go through what I went through and learn how to cope in other ways that I didn't," Jason said.

For Jason, Massachusetts Fallen Heroes is his purpose and his family. This Memorial Day, it has even more meaning for this Gold Star brother: at the foot of the memorial that bears his brother's name, his nephew, Tyler, was recently sworn into the United States Marines.

"I would say it's something I've always wanted to do. Just a calling I guess," Tyler said before the ceremony. He was a preschooler when he lost his father.

His grandparents raised him and his brother when their mom died a few years later.

The pain of losing a son was still visible as Andrew Farrar Sr. talked about Tyler's decision to follow in his father's footsteps. "Extremely proud, but I have to tell you there's an emptiness in my stomach. It's not an easy time," Farrar Sr. said, his voice cracking with emotion.

That's why this Gold Star family is grateful for the mission of the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes.

"Your biggest fear is that you never want to be forgotten, not you, but your loved ones are never forgotten," the elder Farrar said.

The flag display and the permanent memorial is just part of what this organization does to make sure no one is forgotten is during a pandemic.

"We haven't shut down. The families' lives haven't shut down. The loss hasn't shut down and our mission will continue forever," Jason said.

The flags will be on display until Tuesday, May 26th, and you can find a link to the tribute on the Massachusetts Fallen Heroes website.

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