First Posted: 1/15/2009
LUMBERTON - American flags were placed at the graves of 350 war dead buried at New Hollywood Cemetery this Memorial Day weekend, an honor that was conceived and then carried out by a 14-year-old.
Jonathan Ivey said the flag display is part of his Eagle Scout project. About 50 people visited the East Lumberton cemetery for a Memorial Day ceremony on Monday. They included Jonathan's grandfather, Harry.
“This a special day,” said Harry Ivey, a city councilman. “I thank (Jonathan) for selecting the New Hollywood Cemetery to recognize all veterans of war who are placed in this cemetery.”
The councilman told the group that it is important that Americans honor those who have died protecting their country.
“It is our solemn responsibility to remember them and to give grateful thanks that when their nation called, they answered with their lives,” he said.
Jonathan and about 10 fellow Boy Scouts began identifying the veterans five weeks ago. With pencil and pads, they scoured the grave yard and scribbled down name after name.
Ivey, a freshman at Lumberton High School, then typed the 350 names into his computer at home and saved the database on a disk. On Saturday, the group returned to the cemetery and spent three hours planting the miniature American flags.
“I am glad to see this,” said Robert Adams, who attended Monday's ceremony. “I have never seen something like this out here before.”
Howard Reaves, a 71-year-old who served in the Air Force during the Korean War, was impressed.
“When I seen this young man take this on … I saw he was really dedicated to his country,” Reaves said. “The scouts are very important because they are part of our country's leadership.
“I don't think that we remember enough. Our mind seems to forget as the years go on, but that is something we can't forget. These people gave their lives.”
Before the service, fellow scouts Joshua Bass, Justin Milstein and David Price raised a flag to half-staff. Chip Bass. pastor of Ashbury United Methodist Church, shared Bible scriptures.
“In battle there is no race, no economical status, there is no religion in battle, no Jews and no Catholics,” Bass said. “It's brothers and sisters in arms and each one is trying to look after and protect the person beside of them.
“Time ceases to exist in battle. You no longer think in terms and decades, years, months and hours. You think in moments. Can I live this moment? What a sacrifice these people have made for us in all the wars that have been fought.”
Ivey, a member of Troop 33 at First Baptist Church, presented a printout of his database to the New Hollywood Cemetery Foundation. Ivey credits his father, Buddy, for jump-starting his Eagle Scout project.
“He knew that that the cemetery didn't have a standing record of the veterans buried at the cemetery,” Jonathan said. “I felt that even though it had a practical purpose, the database was also more of a symbolic thing. We wanted to honor the veterans. It couldn't have been completed without the help I had.”
Ivey will embark on the final part of his project - recovering the flags - later this week. He is scheduled to go before a review board to receive his Eagle Scout this summer.
“For these young men to take this project on … it was extremely nice,” said Billie Britt, a former county commissioner who came out to remember her uncle, Hubert Surles. “The discipline they are learning and how they conducted themselves was very impressive.”