The members of Cub Scout Pack 238 arrived at the Bel Air Memorial Gardens Sunday morning, prepared to honor the veterans buried in the cemetery, but a living veteran honored their efforts as well.
Chris MacLarion, a resident of Belcamp who served in the Army from 1993 to 1996, spoke to the Cub Scouts before they dispersed to place American flags on the veterans' graves.
He thanked them for giving up their Sunday morning and compared them to soldiers, in that "you volunteered and that you're very patriotic."
"When you go out today and you honor all the soldiers, just remember these are people that came before you and much like you, [were] volunteering," MacLarion said. "They served their country, and from me to you, I thank all of you guys for coming out here this morning and giving your morning up, so you should all give yourselves a round of applause."
Veterans Day is Monday, and ceremonies will be held throughout Harford County to honor those who served in the military.
MacLarion said after his brief remarks that he was a Boy Scout through the Life Scout rank, the second-highest Scout rank before Eagle Scout, and had been deployed to Panama on a humanitarian mission during his military service, when he was a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.
At least 40 Cub Scouts, plus several Boy Scouts, attended with their parents and older and younger siblings, during a breezy yet sunny day.
Kelly Smith, chair of the pack committee, said placing the flags in honor of Veterans Day has been a pack tradition since 2002.
The pack is affiliated with St. Ignatius Church of Forest Hill.
Smith said the Scouts replace flags which were placed on the graves the previous year with new flags; the old flags are retired by burning during a campfire ceremony which is led by parents who are veterans.
Burning is the traditional manner of disposing of an American flag, and is codified in federal law.
U.S. Code Title 4 Chapter 8(k) states:
"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
Smith noted Boy Scouts who have placed flags as Cub Scouts typically return to place them when they are older.
"Some of the older boys are coming back for this event, so it's a very meaningful event for the children," she explained.
The Scouts fanned out through the rolling hills of the cemetery off Moores Mill Road and searched for headstones marked with the names of people who had served in the military.
Rowan Temby, 7, of Forest Hill, who holds the Wolf rank, strode through the cemetery grounds with his 2-year-old brother Isaac and mother Rachel.
Todd Orzech, 9, of Bel Air and a Junior Webelos, rolled through the cemetery in a wheelchair pushed by his father Fran. Todd said he broke his leg playing football.
The Scouts typically place about 1,400 flags, and Sunday was no different. The boys placed 1,480 flags, according to Diana Armstrong, a pack parent leader who served as the Veterans Day coordinator.
"I think it went well; I was happy with the turnout," she said. "I think the nice weather helped."
The boys found graves of veterans who had served in World War II, the Korean War, even dating back to World War I, which took place nearly a century ago.
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Armstrong noted the event was example of the values embedded in the Cub Scout Promise; the boys promise to "do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to help other people and to obey the law of the pack."
"This is duty to your country and helping other people," she explained.
Webelos Scout Tyler Fuller, age 9, said he had "a good time" placing flags. He walked through the cemetery with his stepfather Paul Heckman and stepbrothers Colin Heckman, 9, and Shane Heckman, 7 years old.
Webelos is the highest rank a Cub Scout can achieve before joining Boy Scouts.
Colin and Shane are not in scouts, but said they enjoyed taking part in Sunday's event.
Colin said he enjoyed "looking for the oldest date, for who served and what year."
"I think they learned a little bit more about what Veterans Day really is and how important it is to us as Americans," Paul Heckman said of the boys.