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Scouts, volunteers make sure veterans’ graves have new flags for holiday

Coast guardsman places flags at Arlington (Elizabeth Fraser/Arlington National Cemetery/U.S. Army)

Around two dozen Scouts, their families and a dozen veterans did their annual part Tuesday evening to dress up veterans’ graves before Memorial Day weekend.

The group replaced flags at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Danville before visiting five other cemeteries, according to Doug Resseguie, retired Montour County Veterans Affairs coordinator. Last year, the group replaced 1,100 flags at Odd Fellows alone and about 325 more at Fairview Cemetery, Resseguie said.

The Air Force veteran is retired and doesn’t have an official title in his current capacity, but he calls himself a Memorial Day Planning Committee member.

“We have a group of us that do planning for Memorial Day,” the retired Air Force veteran said. “Although, technically, the flags come under the county VA office, it’s me, along with a bunch of my other veteran buddies that we’re just used to coming out and doing it.”

Resseguie said he briefs the volunteers and their families about what they need to do then everybody scatters. He said the Scouts’ efforts are vital to completing the project.

“It is extremely important. Without the help of all the Scouts — including Girl Scouts, and girls in Scouts — it would just be impossible for us because we’re getting older and we can’t traipse these hills like these kids can,” he said. “And they absolutely love to do it. They really just enjoy coming out. It’s a wonderful experience. It always revives my faith in our youth to see them come out and honor our veterans who are no longer with us.”

Hunter Kelchner, 17, from Troop 39 based at Grove Presbyterian Church, Danville, said doing community service is one of the benefits of being a Scout.

“It means a lot to me,” he said. “We get to take care of the veterans that served for our country — gave us our freedom. Without these veterans, we wouldn’t be where we’re at.”

Zander Heintzelman, 17, and Caleb Shiffer, 12, both of Troop 50, Buckhorn, also said fulfilling the community service aspect of Scouting is rewarding.

“This is the first time I’ve done this,” Shiffer said. “I like helping out people in the community.”

“We’re giving back to the people that served us,” Heintzelman said. “People that gave it all for us. We’re out honoring them.”

Heintzelman said he had participated in the event once or twice before.

Scouts in the Valley have been part of the flag replacement for a long time. Resseguie said he’s been at it since 2009.

He said his fellow veterans trail behind the Scouts, picking up the old flags that have been replaced and making sure no veterans’ graves are missed.

Resseguie said he, Tim Egan and an eighth-grade class and their teachers also take a trip every year to 18 cemeteries in northern and western Montour County. That’s more of an educational trip, where students learn about veterans and are quizzed on wars. He calls it “a really inspiring trip.”

“It would be so sad to have our veterans that are no longer with us be forgotten except by maybe some family members,” Resseguie said. “A lot of these veterans have really sacrificed a lot for our country and it’s important to recognize it and to remember what they’ve done and what this country stands for and what they fought for.

“It’s extremely important that we do this. Their contributions are immeasurable to our country. We wouldn’t be standing here today if it weren’t for our veterans.”


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