Cub Scouts from Forest Park, Oak Park, Riverside and River Forest gathered in the early hours May 24 to decorate veterans’ graves at a special memorial celebration in Woodlawn Cemetery.
“It used to be called Decoration Day,” said Forest Park Pack 109 Cub Pack Leader Jill Wagner. The tradition began with a day to honor soldiers on both sides of the American Civil War, Wagner noted, from both the Confederacy and Grand Army of the Republic. Of course, Woodlawn Cemetery, opened in 1913, has not been around since the Civil War days, although there are Civil War veterans buried in older cemeteries in Forest Park.
“[Decorating veterans’ graves] is a tradition that’s not too popular nowadays,” Wagner added. That’s why the Cubs jumped at the chance when Woodlawn offered to have scouts decorate the memorials.
Wagner believes it’s a good reminder for the scouts.
“It’s a way to honor the people and their families who have dedicated their lives to improving our well-being and country,” she said. This is a lesson that fits in with the messages of scouting, Wagner said.
“Memorial Day is a special time to reflect that we are in a larger world beyond a lot of things we enjoy. It’s important to remember the struggle of generations before us.”
Wagner said Scouting has changed over the past few years, but what remains constant are, “morals that come out of scouts and values that we’re working toward,” she said.
On Memorial Day itself, the Forest Park Cub Scouts worked the Oak Park ceremony at Scoville Park.