By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Most people honored with a granite marker in a cemetery have ended their contribution to the earthly world. A local Boy Scout was so honored this week, although his contribution to the burial site will continue long into the future.
Jonathan Gibbs, who earned his Eagle Scout ranking by coming up with a way to make locating the graves of local veterans easier, was commended for his effort with the placement of such a marker.
A brief celebration held Monday, May 10, honored Gibbs, who fashioned more than 500 pieces of PVC pipe into flag-holders for quicker placement of small U.S. flags on Veterans Day, Memorial Day and other remembrances at Oak Hill Cemetery.
The ceremony was attended by the young Scout, his grandfather and grandmother (Tony and Wanda Gibbs) and his mother and stepfather (Amanda Gibbs and Assistant Scoutmaster Greg Babiak), along with fellow Troop 26 members Charlie Henley and Jameson Agerton, Assistant Scoutmaster Frank Weaver, Stacy Agerton and Atmore Mayor Jim Staff.
Tony Gibbs, also Troop 26’s Scoutmaster, said the ongoing project has now grown to identification of 540 veterans’ gravesites.
The commemorative marker was placed at the base of the pole bearing the U.S. flag, at the entrance to the city graveyard.
“It’s good to see young folks get involved,” said Billy Gates, commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7016. “That’s mostly a thing of the past anymore. These days it seems like if it’s not a video game or Xbox, it just doesn’t happen. You and your troop have been instrumental in helping us annually, and you found a way to make this easier. The marker is well-deserved.”
Staff said the Eagle Scout’s efforts were “heart-rending,” and pointed out how much help the project gave to city officials in locating and identifying the graves of local veterans.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate what you’ve done for our cemetery,” the mayor said. “Now all the veterans’ graves are on our register, on our maps and in our computers. It’s a worthwhile project, and I just can’t say enough about the job you did.”