For many Scout units across the country, it has become a tradition to place flags on veterans’ graves to mark occasions like Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Showing respect to veterans’ graves like this on Memorial Day offers these Scouts a chance to learn about the men and women of the US Armed Forces who gave their lives defending the freedom and safety of this great nation. It’s a lesson in character, leadership, and sacrifice.
This year, one such group of Scouts in the Boy Scouts of America Evangeline Area Council in Lafayette, Louisiana, helped put more than 1,800 flags on the veterans’ graves in the Lafayette Memorial Park Cemetery.
Four years ago, an Eagle Scout in the community donated the national flags as well as military branch flags to be used to place on the veterans’ graves. The Scouts in the community have turned it into an annual event.
While it took just a little over an hour for the Scouts to place all of the flags on the veterans’ graves, each flag offered an opportunity for reflection to the Scouts.
“They protected us, and if they weren’t there, we might not be here today,” said one Scout.
“There’s so many last names we’ve heard before,” said another Scout. “You might have known that person or their family.”
Margaret Gower, a parent of one of the Scouts, said she appreciated the opportunity to participate in the activity with her son.
“It’s great that these boys get to see it firsthand,” she said. “I think it’s pretty awesome when you look around.”
Indeed. The sight of all those flags in the Lafayette Memorial Park Cemetery – a sight mirrored in communities all over the United States – is a humbling reminder that freedom isn’t free and that we all owe a great deal to those men and women whose sacrifice means we’re able to enjoy that freedom.