More than 50 volunteers placed American flags at 950 veteran graves in Birdsboro in preparation of Memorial Day.
Members of Cub Scout Pack 595, Boy Scout Troop 595, and Girl Scouts of Daniel Boone Service Unit 763, ranging in age from kindergarten through high school, helped the Birdsboro American Legion Post 626 and the Birdsboro Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 411 place more than 800 flags at St. Michael's Cemetery in Birdsboro and 150 more flags at veteran graves at Immaculate Conception Church Cemetery.
In total, the Legion and VFW place about 1,500 flags at 11 local cemeteries. Flags are provided by the Berks County Veterans Affairs Office.
“Memorial Day has a great deal of meaning to us, and helping to keep flags flying over the graves of veterans is one way to express that, especially on Memorial Day,” said Chuck Schnaubelt of the American Legion. “The youths in Scouting are such a great group of people who help to serve our community. Getting the opportunity to watch them place the flags with such reverence and respect is just heartwarming.”
Prior to distributing the flags, the Scouts gathered around the gravestone of Rose A. Hiscock, a U.S. Army Nurse during World War I.
Robert Mealand, past post commander of Birdsboro American Legion Post 626, wanted to show the scouts the importance of the different roles played by veterans.
“Personally, as a former Scoutmaster, it gives great pride to provide an opportunity for our youth to learn and pay respects, while having fun,” said Mealand, who has been active in military and Veterans Affairs in a multitude of roles since the early 1980s. “U.S. grave markers for veterans predate the Civil War and placing the U.S. Flags on the markers came about around 1868, called Decoration Day.”
Vietnam War veteran Charles “Cook” Seibert of the American Legion said that the history of Memorial Day dates back to 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic designated the 30th day of May for "decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country."
“Their hope was that memorial services would continue every year as long any ‘survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades,’” he said.
Cook has been involved with teaching youth flag etiquette, flag retirement ceremonies and the placement and removal of flags on veterans graves for close to 50 years through the American Legion, VFW and the SAR.
“To be honest, I was overwhelmed to see our youth come out and participate at such a young age,” said Cook.
“I am so happy I get to remember those who fought in a war,” said Brownie Troop 1709 member Madison Floyd, 8, of Douglassville. “It’s important to remember the ones who fought for us.”
She had her arms full of bright, new American flags replacing worn flags with the new ones.
Her mother, Nicole Floyd, also of Douglassville, is a co-leader of Troop 1809, said, “Being a leader, I’m glad Girl Scouts gives us these opportunities to teach our younger generation to respect and honor those who gave their lives fighting for our freedom.”