While most people were taking advantage of an extra day off yesterday by sleeping in or getting an early start prepping food for a Memorial Day barbeque, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from across western Contra Costa County were heading to the Rolling Hills Memorial Park and Funeral Home on Hilltop Road. Dressed in official uniforms, they set to work at 8 o’clock sharp placing thousands of flags on gravesites belonging to veterans of American armed services.
“We’ve been doing this for about 14 years,” said Rich Kral, an assistant commissioner for the Herms district of the Boy Scouts of America, which spans from Richmond to Crockett. It started as a family project, but has grown to include more than a dozen scout groups. “There’s over 5,000 veterans laid to rest out here. It’s way to much for any one unit,” he said.
Most of the flags were planted by 11 o’clock, when the cemetery held a brief ceremony marking the holiday. Afterward, cemetery staff served up hot dogs and popcorn to visitors.
Richmond-based Their Angels, a non-profit that organizes monthly events to pack rations for service members serving abroad, set up a booth to collect hand-written notes from anyone who wanted to send a message to the troops.
Marva Lyons, the group’s founder, said she wanted people to remember those serving actively, too. “As people focus on Memorial Day and honoring the men and women who lost their lives on our behalf, we wanted to give them an opportunity to keep the spirit of still thinking of the troops,” she said.