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2,977 flags: Scouts honor Sept. 11 victims with patriotic display in Washington Township

By Michelle Caffrey, South Jersey Times  (The Boy Scouts of America Communications Department was not involved in the creation of this content.)

But that didn’t stop the 15-year-old’s resolve to complete Wednesday afternoon’s task, when he and two dozen other Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts gathered at McGuinness Funeral Home in Washington Township to place 2,977 flags, one for each victim, in the shape of heart on the funeral home’s lawn.

“This just adds to the list of why September 11 is such an important day,” said Edmond, a freshman at Washington Township High School. “Because so many people come together to show their support.”

That was the idea when McGuinness’ Funeral Director Shaun P.J. Martin, an Eagle Scout himself, helped coordinate the placing of the flags for the first time this year. Boy Scout Troop 57 from the township was out in full force, as well as Girl Scouts from Troops 61218 out of Washington Township, 61778 from Williamstown and 64517 from Glassboro.

Girl Scout Jillian Smith, 10, helps place American flags in the shape of a heart to honor 9/11 victims at McGuinness Funeral Home on Sept. 10, 2014 (Michelle Caffrey | South Jersey Times)
Girl Scout Jillian Smith, 10, helps place American flags in the shape of a heart to honor 9/11 victims at McGuinness Funeral Home on Sept. 10, 2014 (Michelle Caffrey | South Jersey Times)

“The scouts are always based on volunteering and helping the community,” said Martin. “[The flags] show that national unity.”

Edmond’s mother, Tina Fellona, said that since the youngest generation was either too young to remember the events of 9/11 or had yet to be born, it’s becoming increasingly important to make sure the gravity of the attacks and value in commemorating them is crystal clear.

“We as parents have to teach them,” said Fellona, “For them to learn about it now is so important.”

She speaks to Edmond and her 9-year-old daughter Bridget about the meaning of Pearl Harbor Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day as well, and when each holiday arises as well, and each time stresses the most important thing is not only to remember, but to respect the victims and survivors.

“I can feel and understand that pain, but I wasn’t there to experience that pain,” said Edmond, who said he’s also learned about the details of the 9/11 terrorist attacks every year in school, but thinks it’s just as important to focus on the national patriotism that swelled after the dust settled.

“It’s a very tragic day, of course, but it’s great to remember in the future and to show how together we are as a country,” Edmond said. “I just think as a community, we can come out and do amazing things.”

While it was the first year for the flag placing, one of Troop 57’s leaders, Nick Tartamosa, and McGuinness’ Director of Community Outreach Elisha Elliot said it might not be the last.

“It could be [a tradition,]” said Tartamosa.

“We hope so,” added Elliot. “It could be a lasting one for sure.”

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