Lawrence’s youths paid tribute to the town’s oldest veterans Saturday morning.
Members of Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and a local church placed flags on the graves of about 300 Civil War veterans in preparation for Memorial Day.
The groups worked with Samuel J. Churchill Camp No. 4, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, to remember the soldiers buried at the Oak Hill, Pioneer and Maple Grove cemeteries.
“We have a lot of people who are honoring World War II, Korean and Vietnam vets,” commander of the camp Brian Van Schmus said. “Sons of the Union was created to remember the legacy of those people who served and fought to preserve freedom in the Union.”
Over at the Oak Hill Cemetery, the scouts scattered throughout the cemetery searching for the Civil War veterans who were buried there. Some were a challenge to find with names partially worn off graves and plots spaced sporadically.
The day wasn’t just about honoring veterans. The scouts learned some lessons along the way. Among them was to always place flags to the right of the tombstone.
Van Schmus told the scouts that shortly after the Civil War, a large number of Union soldiers moved to Kansas, which was subsequently dubbed the Soldier State. In the cemetery, Van Schmus said, you could find the graves of soldiers from as far away as New York, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The group paid special recognition to Medal of Honor Veteran Samuel J. Church, who single-handedly shot off a cannon 11 times while under attack by confederate soldiers.
“If anyone can really visualize manning a cannon by yourself while someone else is shooting at you, that is why he earned his medal,” Van Schmus said.
For Dan Goger and his 8-year-old grandson Cade Goger, Saturday was the first time they had honored Civil War veterans.
“It’s an excellent thing to do — to teach young folks (about) their past and what their legacy should be, to maintain what these veterans fought for,” Goger said.