Bellwood scout overcoming vandalism to replace marker holders at cemeteries

For Liam Flynn, replacing or repairing 300 memorial marker holders in two local cemeteries was much more than an Eagle Scout project. More than a community service project. More than an opportunity to learn about the community he lives in.
It was a history project.
“It is important that we honor hose that are willing to sacrifice part of their lives for us,” he said. “There is quite a bit of history out there. Some of the holders date back to the Revolutionary War.”
It began back in 2002 after a visit to a local cemetery. Liam noticed the large number of damaged markers scattered amongst the gravesites. He wanted to do something.
His first goal was to map both the Blair Memorial and Logan cemeteries to figure out just how many memorial marker holders were damaged or needed replaced.
Next was fundraising. Knowing that he needed to replace 220 holders, at a cost of $4.50 a pop, and repair more than 80 others, he began collecting aluminum. Cash donations from organizations like the Navy League of Altoona and the Bellwood VFW, as well as individuals, allowed him to reach his fundraising goal.
Over the next several months, Liam worked on the project. Just in time for Memorial Day this year, the new markers were placed at the gravesites, with the help of the Bellwood VFW, Cub Pack 28, the Bellwood Girl Scout Troop and the rest of his Troop 29.
Liam said he was a bit set back last week when he discovered that more than 80 markers had been destroyed since his last count in April, but he still plans on completing the project.
“The missing markers are a setback, but that’s the way it goes,” he said. “Looking at all of these markers in place at the cemeteries with all the American flags waving in the wind is a good feeling.
“It has taught me a lot about the type of community that I live in. It is a community that is familiar with the sacrifice and pride,” he said.
The Bellwood Scouts and community have been handing out flags and holding events at the cemeteries for years.
“Eagle Scout projects are just one way scouting helps develop leadership,” said Patrick J. Flynn, scoutmaster of Troop 92.