On Veterans Day (Nov. 11) as most of you know, Americans honor all of those who have served our country in war or peace, who are dead or alive, although it’s largely intended to thank those veterans still living for all of their sacrifices. This day used to be called Armistice Day, commemorating the end of World War I. We celebrate Veterans Day every year; we have loved ones who have served and some who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. But for those who are still growing and learning, they may not know how important this day is for America and for their community.
For Boy Scout Pack 708, that's exactly what happened on Saturday, November 7th. These kids visited the Brooksville Cemetery for the first time to honor those lost in war by placing American Flags on their graves and learned exactly why we’re honoring them and what it means within the community. Normally, the scouts do a similar event at the Florida National Cemetery, but due to COVID they were unable to do that, so they turned local.
Eric, the sexton of Brooksville Cemetery, says that people have come place flags on Memorial Day a couple of times during the last several years, but this is the first time the boy scouts have done it. And what a welcome sight they are!
Amy Passarella, PR and a Cub Leader for 708, met before the event to tell me a little about the pack. Pack 708, consisting of boys ranging from kindergarten to fifth grade, showed up bright and early to the cemetery Saturday morning. There are two sections within the Troop, broken up by ages. The younger boys are a part of a group called Lion Scouts, and they wear dark blue uniforms compared to the older boys’ khaki uniforms.
Brandon Kathman, Withlacoochee District Director of the Boy Scouts, says he has just under 50 units in the area and most of them will do something for Veterans Day whether it's placing flags on graves or visiting with veterans in local assisted living facilities.
Boy Scouts participate in service programs throughout the year, like Wreaths Across America in December where they place Christmas wreaths on the graves of veterans; in February they collect cans for local food banks. Gary Steel a Cub Leader for 708, says, “ A big part of scouting is community service. Being a part of it and doing what we can to improve it.”
Gary instructed pack 708 on what Veterans Day is, the meaning and history behind it. “We’re proud to be out here. We think it’s really important for these young scouts to know about veterans and military service in general. We want them to have pride in their country,” Gary said.
Pack 708 leaders expressed that they thought participation in Boy Scouts would decrease in light of the pandemic, but it turns out just the opposite happened. Hernando families craved a sense of community and togetherness leading to participation in the scouts increasing drastically during these past several months.
Cub Scout pack 708 placed 118 flags in total across Brooksville Cemetery! Each time a boy placed a flag on a veteran’s grave, they quietly paid their respects and thanked them for their service. They even picked up trash throughout the grounds while they were there. A great day of service scouts, keep it up!