Members of Harrison’s Cub Scout Pack 186 have a big chore looming this week, but the people they serve have an even bigger one, the youngsters said.
Pack members will walk through the 13-acre Prospect Cemetery in Brackenridge to place 745 American flags on the graves of veterans buried at the 158-year-old property. There are over 13,000 graves at the site along Freeport Road.
“The reason this project is important to me is that my Uncle Pierre, a Navy veteran, passed away suddenly last year,” said JB Hood, 9, of Harrison. “Placing flags on graves helps me honor him and others who have served our country. It helps me feel close to him.
Flag placement will begin at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, and each vet’s grave will be adorned in time for Memorial Day.
This is the pack’s second year participating in the program, coordinated by the Brackenridge American Legion.
Cub Master Dan Dobies leads 22 elementary age scouts. He wants them to recognize veterans when possible, even if it’s a simple gesture like shaking hands or saying “thank you.”
“I would like them to learn to recognize a veteran by the hat or jacket they might be wearing, or the license plate frame they might have on their vehicle,” Dobies said. “Or, to find out why some people might thank a Vietnam War veteran by using the words ‘Welcome home.’
“I want them to understand that without the service and sacrifice of our country’s veterans, as civilians, they would not be free to do all the fun things they enjoy in life.”
It’s not always an easy task with young scouts, but Dobies said as they grow and mature, the repetitive lesson will register more easily.
Dobies’ son, Leo, already has the idea.
It’s important to dress up gravesites so “we can honor veterans and people don’t forget them,” Leo said.
“I have a grandfather who is a veteran and I think he would be happy because I’m doing this.”
Parent Lauren Cottone said children are never too young to learn appreciation and respect. Her son, Aiden, 7, already understands the basics, she said.
“We hope he can have a better understanding of our freedoms and of those who have sacrificed to allow us those freedoms,” Cottone said.
Aiden said he liked being “an assistant”.
“I like the look of the cemetery when the flags are up, and I can visit it from my grandmother’s house,” he said.