Brooksville, FL: Memorial Day weekend brings about a great deal of activity, but the type of activity and spirit is different for many. Some families will use it as a beach day, a getaway, or a family BBQ opportunity. Others just celebrate not going to work on Monday. But for some, and hopefully many, it is a time to remember and honor those that gave the ultimate sacrifice in their service to our country. UF/IFAS Extension Hernando County 4-H SunnySide Giddy Up club members used this time to practice the third H, Hands to Larger Service.
Like many 4-H club leaders, Jessica Salvail has always inspired her members to give more than they receive. For the past two years, one of the ways they have done this is to volunteer at the National Cemetery in Bushnell on Sunday, the day before Memorial Day. This is the day the flags are posted at each gravesite, a task of huge proportions. Volunteers are asked to bring tools and patience as each flag must be attached and placed properly in a manner not only eye appealing but respectful to all.
By dedicating themselves to this task, members of all ages have the chance to reflect and remember the true meaning of this holiday. It is an opportunity for parents and grandparents to share life stories, name family members that served, and possibly even visit resting places for loved ones too soon gone. Many also learn flag etiquette, respect, and responsibility, and they do so together while providing a needed service. An added lesson, one that is often missed, is that some things happen rain or shine. Florida’s May weather was a bit wet but Salvail reminded her members, “The war wasn’t cancelled due to the rain. Our veterans fought rain or shine, and so we will honor them!!!”
Too often, youth are promised something in return for doing what is right or expected. One of our goals in 4-H is to help young people understand that sometimes the reward is the satisfaction of knowing you did for others, the feeling of pride and personal fulfillment. Studies show these life skills help youth become responsible citizens, learning to serve for the greater good and take pride in their neighborhood, community, and beyond. For SunnySide Giddy Up members, serving quietly on a Sunday in May is doing just that. Hernando’s 4-H Agent Nancy Moores stated, “It is wonderful to see young people taking time to serve others but it is even greater to hear them expressing to others how awesome it made them feel.”
UF/IFAS Extension 4-H is the hands-on youth development program of the University of Florida whose mission is to use a learn-by-doing approach and caring adults to help youth gain the knowledge and life skills they need to be productive, responsible citizens. To achieve its mission, 4-H accesses the expertise and resources of the University of Florida and a nationwide network of Cooperative Extension Service faculty and staff. Nationally, 4-H is the largest youth development organization, serving families for nearly 115 years.
For more information about 4-H in Hernando County, contact 4-H Agent Nancy A. Moores at [email protected] or by calling 352/754-4433 ext. 2.