South County: Shady Side Cub Scouts assist Wreaths Across America effort
By Vicki Petersen
Dec 21, 2018 at 3:00 PM
In many military homes this Christmas, there is an empty seat for someone who is serving or has made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
On the third Saturday of December every year, Wreaths Across America brings military families, veterans, sponsors and community groups together at 1,400 locations across the United States, at sea, and abroad, to place wreaths on the graves of veterans from the Revolutionary War to present conflicts, to show veterans and their families their service will not be forgotten.
On National Wreaths Across America Day, Wreaths Across America fulfills its mission to remember, honor and teach.
Despite a soaking rain Dec. 15, Cub Scouts from Pack 853 in Shady Side laid wreaths at Crownsville Veterans Cemetery, participating in Wreaths Across America for the third year in a row.
Cubmaster Chris Guy said he when he took the position he wanted to embrace the 12 virtues of the Scout law, which states that “a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”
“This event embodied all of the tenets of the law, especially reverence,” Guy said.
The wreath laying began with a ceremony which honored military men and women from all branches of service: Marines, Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine. One ceremonial wreath for each branch was solemnly presented and saluted by a member of that branch.
An additional wreath paid honor to the missing in action and prisoners of war.
After the ceremony, Capt. Kevin Harris of the Civil Air Patrol Annapolis Composite Squadron spoke to the crowd, emphasizing the 18,000 men and women buried there were more than just statistics.
”They were fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and friends,” he said.
He encouraged the volunteers to spend a quiet moment at the grave when they laid their wreaths, to note the name of the soldier, and branch of service, and then go home and research the soldier.
While Scouts from Pack 853 did make the attempt, the route to finding information was not simple.
“Finding information on the Civil War soldiers at the Annapolis Veterans Cemetery was easier,” Guy said.
Nevertheless, Scouts Brady Bowers and Patrick Guy said they did appreciate the experience and would do it again.
“I want to keep doing it,” Brady said, “I always picture them (the soldiers) standing at the grave, waiting for someone to lay a wreath. They are happy.”
He laid a wreath at the gravesite of Frank J. Brady, U.S. Army, “because my first name is his last name.”
Patrick has many family members who served; a grandfather, a great-grandfather and four great-uncles. He laid wreaths at the graves of James W. York, Army, World War II, and Newton A White, Army, Korea.
At the cemetery, Patrick said, “I was little proud and a little sad to realize how many served our country.”
Deven Spriggs was glad for the opportunity to lay a wreath at her grandfather’s grave at the Crownsville Cemetery. “He was my mom’s dad — he died when I was 4. It was special to be able to be the one to put a wreath on his grave. There were only smiles, no tears. It made me happy to remember him.”
It was serendipitous that she got to do so. She and stepmom, Tiger den leader Je’Mira Spriggs, didn’t know he was buried there. But when they couldn’t find the rest of the pack on the sprawling grounds of the cemetery, they herded the Tigers into the visitor’s center, typed in the name Thomas T. Nelson, Marine Corps, Vietnam, and there he was.
Deven is among the first girls to join Boy Scouts of America, which has made changes to its program to reflect the changing nature of American life, adding to the appeal of a Scouting program that can serve the entire family. For the first time, girls will be able to attain the rank of Eagle Scout, Boy Scouting’s highest honor.
The umbrella organization is still called Boy Scouts of America. Cub Scouts retains its name, as it is gender neutral, and Boy Scouts troops are now simply called Scouts.
While there has been some push back from the Girl Scouts of America organization, Deven is undeterred.