The family of a Westminster Marine killed in Iraq in 2006 is hoping to kick-start a nationwide effort to educate children on the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
The Lance Corporal Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project, founded in May, was established to honor Westminster High School graduate Matthew Snyder by initiating patriotic educational ceremonies in schools around Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The organization's focus is to enhance Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies by providing event materials, outlines and ideas to help educate students, while also recognizing and honoring veterans.
"Our main mission is to support education [about] these days in school," said Jane Perkins, aunt of Matthew Snyder.
The organization, which may soon be a nonprofit, — Snyder's family recently applied for the organization to become a 501(c)3 — was inspired by Sandymount Elementary School's Memorial Day Remembrance ceremony in 2006, which recognized Snyder shortly after his death.
Snyder, born and raised in Finksburg, attended Sandymount and graduated from Westminster High School in 2003.
Perkins said the family has been working over the years to establish the organization in Snyder's honor and in May introduced the program at St. Mary's School, a kindergarten through eighth grade Catholic school in Schwenksville, Pa.
"We want to make this as much as it can be," said Perkins, whose children attend St. Mary's School.
The family has created a website, http://www.campsnoops.org, that includes samples and ideas for Memorial Day and Veterans Day ceremonies.
On Sept. 20, Camp Snoops will host a chili barbecue and kickoff fundraiser at the American Legion Carroll Post 31 in Westminster to support the project.
Julie Francis, Snyder's mother, said Camp Snoops is hoping to build off the program at St. Mary's and the fundraiser to eventually get Camp Snoops known further than just locally.
Snyder, nicknamed "Snoops" by his fellow Marines since he served as a gunner on Army Humvees, was killed in action in the Al Asad, Anbar Province in Iraq while returning to camp after delivering supplies to frontline comrades.
Snyder's funeral at St. John Catholic Church in Westminster drew headlines in 2006 when seven members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed the funeral.
While forming the organization, Perkins said the family discovered that many people misunderstood the differences between Memorial Day and Veterans Day.
Memorial Day is a day for honoring military personnel who died while serving their country, but Veterans Day is a day to thank and honor all of those who have served in the military.
"Sometimes the recognition of knowing the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day gets lost," Perkins said.
Francis, who now lives in Calvert County, described her son as "very, very dedicated to the Marine Corps" and someone who "was always looking out for the underdog as a kid."
"We want to carry forward his legacy, carry forward his memory with things that he would be proud to do," she said.
Reach staff writer Blair Ames at 410-412-4880 or email@example.com.
If You Go
What: Chili barbecue and kickoff fundraiser for the Lance Corporal Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project
When: 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20
Where: American Legion Carroll Post No. 31, 2 Sycamore St., Westminster
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Cost: Tickets are $20 and include live music, beer, wine, soda and food. Tickets will not be sold at the door. For information on how to purchase tickets, and to find out more about the project, visit http://www.campsnoops.org or search "LCpl Matt Snyder Camp Snoops Project" on Facebook.