By Jerry Beck, Special to the USAG Benelux GazetteNovember 16, 2017
BRUSSELS -- Over 50 scouts from across Belgium converged in Waregem, a city located in the heart of Flanders Fields, Belgium, Nov. 11 at the eleventh hour, to honor veterans during the 99th anniversary of the end of World War I.
Attendance was a collaborative effort by the American Battle Monuments Commission -- Flanders Field American Cemetery, SHAPE Girl Scouts, Cub Scout Pack 325 and Cub Scout Pack 457. The scouts and their family members were among more than 200 guests who attended the ceremony.
"We should never forget the sacrifices made by so many as a testament of their service to defend our freedom," said Tim McGuire, cubmaster of Cub Scout Pack 325.
During the ceremony, the cub scouts paid tribute to veterans by observing a moment of silence, reading poems in both English and Flemish and laying wreaths. The event was not just for paying respect to WWI veterans but to all veterans around the world.
At the end of the ceremony, Kaat Vanderjeugt, the cemetery's assistant superintendent, spoke with the scouts about the veterans interred at the Flanders Field American Cemetery and presented cub scouts and their siblings with an information card about one particular veteran laid to rest in the cemetery.
Vanderjeugt challenged each scout to identify where the veteran on their card was located in the cemetery. Through the search, cub scouts learned about veterans' heroic acts during some of the most intense fighting in the war.
The scouts also took custody of 19 American flags from Richard Arseneault, the cemetery's superintendent, who explained to the cub scouts the importance of properly retiring a flag that is beyond repair. He encouraged them to continue their civic duty to honor the American flag through their commitment to their country and scouting.
Following the ceremony in Waregem, the cub scouts visited the In Flanders Field Museum in Ypres, Belgium. They climbed the historic Cloth Hall Belfry and walked through the exhibits as they learned more about World War I's history in the West Flanders region.
Cub scouts received the Transatlantic Council Flanders Field World War I Historic Trails award. The SHAPE Girl Scouts participated in an eight-kilometer walk through the Flanders Field region as a part of the new Girl Scout Walking and Hiking Club.
Brussels community families are invited the sign up their children in first to fifth grade or age six to ten for the Cub Scouts. Scheduled activities planned for this year include camping, hiking, community service projects, day camps and quarterly pack outings to exciting venues in and around Brussels. For more information, call +32(0)49-1867101.