(PEKIN) - Gabriel Goen, of Pekin, decided to replace flag holders at Crown Hill Cemetery as his Eagle Scout project. He comes from a family that is well aware of its heritage, a family whose roots are sunk deep into Washington County's past.
The Leader Democrat reports that Gabriel is also very familiar with cemeteries. When the tornado ripped through Pekin last year, it toppled monuments in Martinsburg Cemetery, where some of his ancestors are buried. Days after the twister passed through, Gabriel spent a Saturday with other members of his family, setting up stones and cleaning up the aftermath.
He has also helped his grandmother, Jeanine Martin, put up flags on graves of veterans at that cemetery in recognition of Memorial Day. That's where the idea of replacing flag holders at Salem's Crown Hill Cemetery came from after he found dozens of them crumbling or caked with water and dirt.
Gabriel approached the Daughters of the American Revolution for help.
Through a Facebook page, Gabriel solicited donations, collecting more than $300 so far. He also contacted several businesses for donations of PVC pipe, using the monetary donations to cover costs of additional pipe.
Jim Weatherholt of Pekin Post 203, cut the pipe.
Gabriel, a member of Troop 4088 out of Borden and a student at Eastern High School, tackled the project during fall break. His parents, Jennifer and Jeremy, his grandmother and members of the DAR volunteered their time as well. It took two days to complete the project and replace 1,511 holders.
Gabriel used a map of the cemetery, assigning volunteers to different sections, marking off the names of veterans on a master list. The old, metal holders were gathered up for recycling.
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