Boy & Girl Scouts pay tribute to late veterans

Boy Scouts, flags, Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery
Boy and Girl Scouts and their families put flags next to the grave stones at the Grand Rapids Veterans Home Cemetery. (May 24, 2017)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As we approach Memorial Day weekend, hundreds of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and their families paid tribute to late veterans on Wednesday evening.

Some 5,300 people — veterans and their spouses — are buried at the cemetery on the grounds of the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans. The scouts and families placed an American flag at each one of their tombstones.

For some families, it’s a tradition to serve the red, white and blue, which makes it even more of an honor to take part in the ceremony.

Among the between 400 and 500 scouts was 8-year-old Donovan Hughes. He was with his father, U.S. Army veteran Donald Hughes, and his 5-year-old sister.

“Thank you and it’s been a great honor that you guys have gave us our freedom,” Donovan said he wanted to say to veterans.

“It’s very important for me and I see Boy Scouts teaching him a lot about being respectful and being reverent and loving our country,” Donald Hughes said.

“These people have died, but for serving us and keeping our country free,” 10-year-old Sean Karston said.

“I feel happy and sad. I feel happy because he was brave to serve our country and I feel sad because he died for us,” added David Fishpura, also 10, as he looked at a headstone.

The Boy and Girl Scouts also greeted and thanked the men and women who live at the Grand Rapids Home for Veterans.

Rick Conklin started scouting at age 12. Now 21, he volunteers at the veterans home.

“By just being here and talking to them, you get to learn their stories and learn what they went through,” Conklin said.

U.S. Army veteran Terence Bargon, who lives at the home, said it meant a lot to him.

“It’s a lot to see people recognize. You know, when a lot of guys came back there, was no parades or nothing,” he said.