Local cub scouts spruce up WWI memorial site ahead of Veteran’s Day

KETTERING — More than a century after the official end of World War I, a shady grove in Kettering holds the names and memories of Montgomery County veterans who lost their lives as a result of the conflict.

For the past two decades, local scout troops have voluntarily held the responsibility of keeping the quiet, grassy area free of overgrown shrubbery and debris. On Saturday, BSA Super Troop 193 spent a few hours doing so ahead of the Veteran’s Day memorial holiday.

Located at 2917 Berkley St., the Victory Oak Knoll honors those men and women with a large plaque listing all 182 of their names. The grove is full of towering, sturdy oak trees, each one representing one of those lives.

“At the turn of the last century, most people lived and died within 75 miles of the place they were born,” Assistant Scout Master Jonathan Thomas said of the veterans. “But these people went across the ocean for places they’d never seen and people they’d never meet.”

Scouts and scout masters from Troop 193 were busy Saturday raking and clearing leaves, pulling weeds and dead shrubbery, and fixing a broken fence at the knoll’s entrance.

Assistant Scout Master Jim Cunningham said the clean-up events give the scouts an opportunity to pause, reflect and honor the sacrifice of those who served in WWI.

“Every time they rake a pile of leaves, dig something up, fix something or work on something, they get a chance to walk by and look at one of the names there and really think about that,” Cunningham said. “These are actual, real people and there are some heartbreaking stories here.”

Senior Patrol Leader for Troop 193 George Vanderburgh said he appreciates the opportunity to spruce up an area that holds so much meaning.

“It’s an absolute joy because we get to maintain memorial to some of the greatest people who have ever lived,” he said.

Vanderburgh, 17, attends Oakwood High School. He’s been involved with Troop 193 for about five years.

“We do a lot of service projects to help out the community,” he said, adding that the troop also goes on monthly camp outs where they can practice skills like climbing, shooting sports, spelunking, and tubing.

“Being able to grow with the community the past few years, getting to know new people, and working together through physical hardships, like getting through the pandemic together, and learning skills wherever we go has just been wonderful,” Vanderburgh said.

About the Author