Scouts return to Dayton National Cemetery to place flags on graves

Matthew Drye 14, and Will Davis, 14, place flags on the graves of veterans at the Dayton National Cemetery on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Matthew Drye 14, and Will Davis, 14, place flags on the graves of veterans at the Dayton National Cemetery on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff

After a year off due to the pandemic, Boy Scouts of America returned to the Dayton National Cemetery Saturday to place flags on the graves ahead of Memorial Day.

“These people - every single one of these sites - somebody signed up to help their country,” said Bryan Waid, assistant scout master of Troop 236 in Kettering.

Waid, a non-combat veteran, said the event was important to him. He will walk along the graves and notice how old they are and which graves mark service members who received Medals of Honor.

In typical years, there’s a short ceremony for the Scouts and other volunteers before they fan out across the facility to place flags on graves. The scouts did not do a ceremony this year, which Waid said he missed. A few years ago, Waid said he was brought to tears when the ceremony included the reading of a poem written from the buried soldier’s point of view about people coming to visit him every year on Memorial Day.

“You know, we have to honor these people,” he said.

Will Deel, 12, of Troop 236 in Kettering, places flags on veteran's graves at the Dayton National Cemetery on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Will Deel, 12, of Troop 236 in Kettering, places flags on veteran's graves at the Dayton National Cemetery on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff

His son, Samuel Waid, 17, said placing the flags is a good thing to do and does not require much effort or time.

“It’s a good thing that we’re able to honor the people who served this country,” Samuel Waid said.

The scouts work with the Dayton National Cemetery and coordinate where each troop would place flags.

Girl Scout troops also teamed up with local Cub Scouts to plant flags throughout the facility.

Jeffrey Baylor, 10, of Cub Pack 402, and Lily Baylor, 8, of Girl Scout Troop 35155, place flags on veterans' graves on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Jeffrey Baylor, 10, of Cub Pack 402, and Lily Baylor, 8, of Girl Scout Troop 35155, place flags on veterans' graves on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff

Melora Newsome, with Cub Scout Pack 402 out of Miamisburg, said respect for the military and for the flag is something that they stress in the troop.

“It’s showing respect for those who have passion and showing respect for our soldiers currently,” she said. “We want them to know that we support them 100%.”

Her troop has several military families and veterans involved, she said. Independently of this event, Newsome said last year several families put flags on soldiers’ graves in private cemeteries.

Andrew Fisher, 6, of Cub Scout Pack 402, places flags on veterans' graves at the Dayton National Cemetery on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff
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Andrew Fisher, 6, of Cub Scout Pack 402, places flags on veterans' graves at the Dayton National Cemetery on Saturday, May 29. Eileen McClory / Staff

Eric Zeid, of Troop 7 in Springboro, began cataloguing soldiers in private Jewish cemeteries for his Eagle Scout project after his grandfather died. He found about 2,500 people.

“I think is very important to honor veterans because they’re constantly doing things that most people wouldn’t necessarily be willing to do,” he said.

Both of Zeid’s grandfathers served in the Vietnam War. He said those who serve are risking their lives and spending time defending American values.

“So it’s a very selfless thing that they’re doing, and I think even if we aren’t gonna do it ourselves, I think supporting them is something that we should be doing,” Zeid said.

Contact Eileen McClory at 937-694-2016 or eileen.mcclory@coxinc.com.