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Tewksbury Vets Pleased With Cemetery Ruling

St. Mary's Cemetery will now allow special veterans markers at gravesites.

Local veterans are hailing a decision by the Archdiocese of Boston to allow special markers on the graves of veterans at a pair of local cemeteries.

For generations, St. Mary's Cemetery on River Road in Tewksbury and St. Patrick Cemetery in Lowell, both under the control of St. Margaret's Catholic Church, did not allow the markers.

Control of the two cemeteries was recently transferred to the Catholic Archdiocese and new Cemetery Superintendent Michael Marshall announced that as of Sept. 1, the policy would be changed.

"It's about time they changed the policy. It's overdue," said Jim Williams, director of Veterans Services in Tewksbury.

The markers are plaques, embedded in the ground, either made of bronze, marble or granite. On the plaque is the veteran's name, rank, branch of service and dates of birth and death. They are provided to families free of charge through the Office of Veterans Affairs.

But whatever the reason, veterans are welcoming the new policy.

"It's a good deal. It's a good decision on their part to allow the markers," said John Houlihan, commander of the Tewksbury American Legion Post 259. "Everyone who served earned that recognition. They deserve to have a marker."

Tewksbury Cemetery on East Street has always allowed markers for veterans.

According to Williams, families wishing to have a marker put on the grave of a veteran can come to his office in the basement of Town Hall and fill out an application form. Williams said the application would also have to be signed by a representative of the cemetery.

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