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Scouts honor deceased vets

Troops plant more than 5,000 flags on graves at Eternal Valley

Posted: May 23, 2009 10:15 p.m.
Updated: May 24, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Fourteen-year-old Henry Johnson, of the Canyon Country's Elk Lodge troop 2379, honors a deceased soldier at Eternal Valley Memorial Park Saturday morning. Local scouts placed 5,012 American flags to honor those who served in the armed forces.

Close to 50 Santa Clarita Boy and Girl Scout troops planted flags over 5,012 graves of veterans interred at Eternal Valley Memorial Park Saturday morning in Newhall.

Before the scouts trekked up the Memorial Park’s hills with flags in hand, retired United States Army Major Ed Gould reminded them to treat their duty with reverence, respect, careful treatment of the flags and to give a final salute at the grave site of each deceased veteran.

“This is a very special time for our history,” said Gould, who served in the U.S. Army for 24 years. “We get a chance to remember those who paid the ultimate sacrifice.”

Gould said the planting of the flags started 20 years ago with 215 interred veterans at the Memorial Park.

Like the others, Boy Scout Troop 2370 exhibited team work at each site as one scout created a hole with the poker, another handed the flag off, and the last planted the flag in the hole. Then, the troop of 10, gave their final salute in unison at each site.

“We get to see what year (each veteran) passed away and where they served, in the Army or Navy,” said Jacob Hensley, 11, of Saugus.

“They risked their lives to keep this country safe.”

Troop leader John O’Brien, of Canyon Country, said it’s important for the Scouts to recognize what sacrifice the past veterans gave. O’Brien’s father and father-in-law were injured in World War II.

“My son never knew them,” he said. “It’s great he can recognize those who died for our freedom so we can do this.”

Girl Scout Gibson Stone, 10, of Troop 3712, said placing the flags helped her learn some of the names of people who have served our country.

No more than 45 minutes past the first flag placing, the Scouts had planted 85 percent of the flags.

“It is inspiring,” said David Zucker, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Veterans’ Memorial Committee, as he gazed out onto the hills topped with thousands of flags waving in the wind. Zucker served in the U.S. Army for 20 years and retired as a Colonel.

On Monday, the Veterans’ Memorial Committee will host its annual Memorial Day event at Eternal Valley starting at 10 a.m.

The Eternal Valley Memorial Day ceremony will feature a fly-over by a C-17 transport airplane accompanied by a small squadron of vintage fighter planes.



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