Pembroke’s Cub Scouts: small in size, but eager to pay the respect that veterans deserve

  • The removal of American flags after Veterans Day is a giant undertaking each year. The Pembroke Cub Scouts offered a solution by volunteering for the job. Courtesy

  • Pembroke Cub Scouts volunteered to take down all the American flags that had been put by graves for Veterans Day. —Courtesy

  • Pembroke Cub Scouts volunteered to take down all the American flags that had been put by graves for Veterans Day. Courtesy

Monitor staff
Published: 11/24/2022 8:08:27 AM

The Pembroke Cub Scouts had school last Saturday.

The classrooms were spread among the 13 cemeteries in town. The teachers were part of the Pembroke Cemetery Commission. The area of study was war history. Specifically, who fought and why? How did it change the world? What did we learn?

And, most importantly, what have American forces endured in so many terrible places around the world? That’s why Dan Chase, a member of the Pembroke Cemetery Commission, jumped at the Scouts’ recent offer: to remove all the American flags standing beside the veterans’ cemetery sites around the town.

That’s right. The kids initiated this. Take a bow, Cub Scout Pack 270 out of Pembroke, featuring kids 5 to 10 who are split into dens and carry names like lions and tigers and bears.

“They came to us and asked us if they could do it,” Chase said. “They approached the town to see if they could do this and how that would work out.”

A Cub Scout leader could not be reached for comment.

Normally, after the flags had been planted at the town’s cemeteries on Memorial Day Weekend, Chase and his fellow committee members and other volunteers would have cleared the flags by now, a volunteer tradition that is selfless yet gets little attention.

“My two grandsons would help,” Chase said. “And my cousin will be buried (at Evergreen Cemetery) and that helped.”

As a Cemetery Committee member, Chase and his colleagues make sure the veterans’ final resting places are neat, each marked by that American flag. The flags are stored, ready for next year. Tattered flags are placed in a drop-off box, used exclusively for American flags, and disposed of at an official ceremony held by the area’s vets.

In other words, the flag is sacred. So much so that the Cub Scouts learned on Saturday that American flags must never touch the ground.

And considering that these were Cub Scouts – some as young as 5 – who fanned out among the town’s 13 cemeteries and retrieved the 78 American flags, Chase – tongue planted firmly in cheek, sort of – saw a potential problem.

“This will be a tough weekend to keep the flags up high enough,” he said. “These kids, they’re so little.”

Maybe so, but some no doubt were curious about who these people were, buried under granite with the dates in which they served.

“They will be exposed and when they go home, they may ask questions,” Chase said. “And the next time they see something like this, they might think it was cool because they’ve already seen how it works.

“Maybe someone will decide to join the service or do something else heroic.”

On Saturday, the Scouts planned to visit the grave of William Appleton of Hillsboro, who received the Medal of Honor for his duty during the Civil War. He’s in a vault with his family, set on the side of a hill.

Later, during World War II, Chase’s uncle, Walter Batchelder, was shot in the leg and earned the Purple Heart. As the family executor, Chase took possession of the Purple Heart after his brother’s death and still has it.

He has plans for it. Later. This past weekend, the Medal of Honor was scheduled to be on display for all to see and learn from.

Pride and courage, sadness and somber.

Those are the emotions that Chase wanted to relay to the Cub Scouts. He wants them to wonder.

“I’ll bury (the Purple Heart) on his gravesite,” Chase said. “But it’s for show and tell now. They can touch it if they like it.”

Ray Duckler bio photo

Ray Duckler, our intrepid columnist, focuses on the Suncook Valley. He floats from topic to topic, searching for the humor or sadness or humanity in each subject. A native New Yorker, he loves the Yankees and Giants. The Red Sox and Patriots? Not so much.

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