For elementary school-aged Cub Scouts, the word reverent is difficult to understand. Most Scouts comprehend the other words of the Scout Law that they profess at the start of each Cub Scout meeting, words like trustworthy, friendly, brave, and clean. Reverent, however, is not a word commonly found in their weekly spelling quizzes or spoken in the home.
This past Memorial Day, LaBelle’s Cub Scout Pack 9 participated alongside other Veterans in planting the flags among the headstones of our passed servicemen and women. It was then that Sara Nelson-Light, a Den Leader with Pack 9, observed “there were a lot of white crosses either missing from graves, or broken,” making it difficult to identify the graves of Veterans, and resulting in the flags being planted directly into the ground, which increased the chance that the flag would fall to the ground. Sara worked with the other Pack leaders and came up with a plan to replace some of the old and missing crosses.
The Scouts worked during one of their meetings, held every Monday evening at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, the Pack’s sponsor organization, furiously measuring and cutting PVC and gluing ends together in order to make their production goal of 50 crosses. “With daylight savings time hitting us, I’m sure there were some neighbors to the Church wondering why they were hearing electric saws at 6:30 in the evening after the sun set,” says Cub Master Matt Kindermann, a local area Veteran himself, “that was us (the Cub Scouts), making stuff with our hands.”
It was fortunate that Veterans Day fell on a Monday this year, a regular meeting night for the Scouts. After securing permission from the County Administration to be in the cemetery after dusk, the Scouts met at Fort Denaud Cemetery at their regular meeting time. While adult leaders Thomas Kennedy and Leslie Hellard put the finishing touches on the crosses, Cub Master Matt led the group by flashlight through the cemetery to the grave of Nicholas Cutinha, a local Vietnam Veteran that was killed in battle on March 2nd, 1968, and was posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Matt asked the Scouts about the word reverence, and had a conversation about how reverence is a higher form of respect that goes beyond simply standing when the Nations flag walks by, or behaving in church while people worship. “Reverence is about getting under the surface of simply showing respect, and really understanding why that respect is deserved, no matter who you are or what you believe in,” said Matt. Matt then talked about the story of Nicholas Cutinha, what Nicholas did in the final minutes of his life to save his fellow soldiers from certain death, and how the survivors of that day come to LaBelle every March 2nd to pay their respects, and show reverence. Adult leader Mike Favara commented “you could hear a pin drop during the story, the Scouts were totally engaged.”
After Matt explained why there were pennies and quarters on Cutinha’s grave, the Scouts then gathered as many crosses as they could carry, and began walking the rows of the cemetery to place them. “I really didn’t know there were so many that needed to be replaced until you actually started looking,” said Leslie Hellard. Tom Kennedy added, “if we had another 20 or 30 crosses, we could have covered all the graves that were missing them.” This will be next year’s Cub Scout project, another 50 crosses. “It was a good night,” said adult leader Greg Pack, “we did a good thing here, I feel good about it, and the Scouts learned a lot about reverence, and also learned that cemeteries are not scary places at night!”
LaBelle Cub Scouts Pack 9 meets most Monday evenings at 6:30 p.m. at Carlson Memorial United Methodist Church, on days that school is in session.