FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Dec. 21, 2020) -- One by one, and over the course of several hours, members of Fort Drum Cub Scout Pack 26 and Girl Scout Service Unit 512 placed wreaths at the Military Mountaineers Monument and the surrounding markers in Memorial Park on Dec. 19.
“Today is National Wreaths Across America Day, and we are honoring those in the 10th Mountain Division who passed away,” explained Samuel Lowman, 11, Fort Drum Cub Scout Pack 26.
It took a little longer than the ceremony they held last year, but it’s been a year unlike any other.
“We had to do it differently this year because of COVID-19, but fortunately, we were able to get the support of the 10th Mountain Division to make this a socially distanced event,” said Sgt. 1st Class James Webb, Pack 26 committee chair. “Our Scouts wanted to do this. We’re a youth-run organization, so they give us the ideas and then we figure out a way to make it happen.”
That meant recording the 10th Mountain Division Band performing the national anthem and a bugler playing “Taps” a day earlier, and then arranging for cannon fire, a color guard, guest speaker and chaplain invocation – all conducted separately, and even hours apart.
“Where normally we might have 75 to 200 people participating in the ceremony, we worked it out so there was never more than 10 people together at any time,” Webb said.
After the last wreath was placed, Webb pieced together all of the footage he recorded and presented the ceremony in its entirety on the Pack 26 Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pack26nny/.
Through the National Wreaths Across America campaign, ceremonies were conducted at more than 1,200 locations across the country that day.
“Last year, we decided to place wreaths at Memorial Park because Fort Drum is our hosting unit,” Webb said. “If it wasn’t for Fort Drum, we wouldn’t have an organization.”
The mission of this annual wreath-laying campaign is to “Remember, Honor, Teach,” and Webb said that the ceremony reflected that.
“That’s what we wanted to do – remember and honor the fallen,” he said. “Through this, the Scouts learned how to be resilient and adaptable while supporting a great cause. This teaches them that when life gets hard, you never give up. We may be in a pandemic, but we found a safe way to support this program.”