July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Hundreds gather to place flags on 15,200 gravesites

Don Kumhall lifted the bugle to his lips and the morning abuzz with the voices of children excited about honoring veterans softened to a hush.

The mournful notes of taps sounded from Kumhall’s horn at the close of the 10th annual gravesite-decorating ceremony at the Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Rittman on Saturday.

Cemetery program assistant Lorri Tagliaferro, a Medina resident, said about 900 Scouts registered to participate in Saturday’s ceremony as well as family members and others. She said every organization was assigned a section of the cemetery to place the flags, and all 15,200 gravesites would be decorated.

The Scouts, from Boy Scouts of the Great Trail Council and Girl Scouts of the Western Reserve, began arriving about an hour before the 10 a.m. ceremony.

They were joined by the honor guard from Kumhall’s Brunswick American Legion Post 234, which performed a rifle salute, and officials from the American Legion of Ohio, which sponsored the ceremony, provided lunch for the Scouts and awarded each a grave decorating pin in appreciation of their efforts.

Among the sea of Scouts were members of Medina’s Cub Scout Pack 3501, which includes boys in first through fifth grade.

As the sun rose higher in the sky and the temperature climbed, many of the boys, who had been waiting about an hour for the ceremony to begin, were trying not to fidget.

Cubmaster Andy West joked that one of the dozen Scout laws “should be patience. I think that was left out of the 12.”

Tagliaferro told those gathered their patience was appreciated.

“This is a huge undertaking for the cemetery,” she said. She reminded those who would be placing flags that the cemetery is a national shrine and hallowed ground.

“Please be mindful and respectful of where you are,” she said.

West said placing the flags was the annual “good turn” for Boy Scouts of America, which is celebrating its 100th year, and Scouts nationwide would be participating in similar ceremonies. He said Cub Scouts try to do one good turn a month, and noted the Boy Scout slogan is “Do a good turn daily.”

The “good turn” was a little tough for some of the Scouts because the ground in places was hard, and planting the flags took some coaxing. But, in less than an hour, each grave was decorated.

“Your presence honors those who are buried here,” Tagliaferro told the volunteers. “Thank you so much for remembering.”

Contact Liz Sheaffer at (330) 721-4060 or lsheaffer@medina-gazette.com.

About Liz Sheaffer