BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — There was a sea of purple flags on Boston Common Monday afternoon. 20 thousand flags were planted to symbolize the number of lives lost to drug overdose in Massachusetts between 2011 and 2021.
"The flags are beautiful [and are] the color purple which is a royal symbol, but it also symbolized loss," Linda from Roxbury said. She has planted flags for the past two years.
The flags were planted in recognition of International Overdose Awareness Day. The day is annually observed on August 31 around the world as a campaign to end drug overdoses, remember those who have died without stigma, and to acknowledge the grief of family and friends who have been affected, according to the Penington Institute.
"A big part of this at least for me is to not just raise awareness about it, but to try and remove some of the stigma around it," Alex told WBZ's Shari Small.
She planted a flag in honor of her friend who passed away in April from a drug overdose.
"We're really here just to support her family [and] to support everybody who's been touched by any sort of addiction, overdose, death, and people living in sobriety," Alex said.
Several state and local officials including Governor Baker were in attendance.
"For me, I do my work because my dad died of the disease of addiction long ago," Frankin Cook said.
He works with people who are grieving the loss of loved ones from overdoses.
"Whenever people come together in community who have lost a loved one in this horrible way, it is extraordinarily healing. You know that you are not alone... you don't know it, you feel it," Cook said.
In addition to the field of flags, several state bridges and buildings are being lit up in purple lights in recognition of the lives lost.
WBZ's Shari Small (ShariSmallNews) has more: