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Eagle Scout’s device solves flag problem for veteran graves at historic TX cemetery

American flags decorate the headstones of service members (Mate 2nd Daniel J. McLain, U.S. Navy/WikiCommons)
January 03, 2019

The Blanco Historical Cemetery Association (BHCA) in Texas had a problem and 17-year-old Boy Scout Nathan Burden had a solution.

The volunteers at BHCA were having major issues with the holders they were using to secure tribute flags on the graves, which the wind would continually blow to the ground, KHOU 11 News reported.

BHCA volunteer Gail McClellan said, “We’ve had the copper holders and they’re great, but they fill up with dirt, and, when you weed eat the cemetery, you break the flagpoles.

Viable solutions were very expensive and would take a lot of time, she added.

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Across town, Nathan, member of Boy Scout Troop 441, was on a mission to satisfy the requirements he needed to move on to the next class, Eagle Scouts.

Nathan heard that the association was having a problem, and having a deep respect and passion for those who served in the military, he decided this would be his project.

“My whole family- my dad, my grandpa, my great-grandpa, they’ve all served,” Nathan said.

He started working on a solution right away with McClellan’s husband, Keith, to replicate similar protocols he had seen while traveling, the San Antonio News reported.

“This main part is rebar with a metal conduit the flag is in and it has two washers, so that way when it goes in, this washer will meet, and it has an elevation to it, it’s pretty simple,” Nathan said.

Patriot Erectors, from Dripping Springs “donated the rebar and conduits and to cut the rebar.”

A few welders have come forward to assist in assembling the flag holders. Nathan’s school, Canyon Lake High, has a welding program that has also offered to help.

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Once completed, Nathan will recruit volunteers to place the flags in the color-coded holders that will identify the war the vet served in and which flag should be placed there.

He will also share his invention with other cemeteries.

In August, the association accepted Nathan’s design.

“It’s gonna help us an awful lot,” McClellan said. “People always want to honor our veterans, it’s what America is and he’s helping us do that.”

The Texas cemetery, around 50 miles north of San Antonio, has a very rich history dating back to 1856. Around 350 Civil War veterans have been laid to rest there, out of nearly 2,000 graves.

McClellan said volunteers “decorate the graves on all patriotic holidays.”

Jacob Burden Sr., Nathan’s father, served in the Army. He said, “[Nathan is] impacting so many different veterans, so many different families. It brings great credit upon himself, his family and his forefathers, that he’s willing to do this.”