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Scouts pay tribute to Gold Star families

When it comes to doing good deeds, the Boy Scouts of America have been helping individuals and organizations for many years. The assistance they provide often deals with military and veterans’ issues. A good example of that can be found here in Boulder City.

Anyone visiting the veterans’ cemetery on Veterans Memorial Drive and Buchanan Boulevard has passed by the memorial at the corner of the property. It’s a project of Nicholas Sich, an Eagle Scout with Boy Scout Troop 903. The engraving reads, in part, “Dedicated to our fallen heroes who rest in this field, Memorial Day May 31, 2004.” The immediate grounds surrounding the memorial are covered with decorative white rocks and include benches painted red, white and blue. A flagstone walkway leads up to the memorial for those who want a closer look.

Earlier this month another Boy Scout took it upon himself to see that a memorial to Gold Star families was dedicated in nearby Henderson in Acacia Park. As proud as mothers and families may be of a Gold Star designation, it’s an honor they would rather not have. Being a recipient of a Gold Star means that a loved one has been killed in combat defending the United States of America. There is a Gold Star memorial in Las Vegas, and two in Sparks, but now one has been erected in Henderson. Even with the current pandemic situation, there was a large turnout of families and veterans who wanted to be a part of honoring those whose loved ones who had given the ultimate sacrifice.

At the dedication, Mayor Debra March and a group of veterans and supporters spoke many words of praise honoring those who had passed, and honored their families as well. The memorial was initially conceived by Alex Ngo, at the time a Boy Scout who wanted to make the event an Eagle Scout project. But it was turned down by the Scouts.

Not to be deterred, he wrote a formal proposal and took it to the Henderson park district. Park Superintendent Doug Guild and Park Operations Manager Kirk Niemand immediately gave Ngo their full support and said they would make an area available in the park. Henderson has a record of honoring veterans, including having built Purple Heart Plaza years ago in the heart of the city.

Ngo then had to raise donations to build the memorial. He was able to get support from the Sunset Garden Club and affiliate organizations, including the American Gold Star Mothers, the Gold Star Wives of America and others, many of which had members in attendance. Groups that attended the ceremony also included the Military Order of the Purple Heart, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Vietnam Veterans of America, Veterans Action Group and Southern Nevada Patriot Guard Riders. The memorial reads in part, “Gold Star Memorial. A tribute to Gold Star Families whose loved one paid the ultimate price defending the United States of America.”

Jerry Adams, president of the Veterans Action Group, was one of the speakers. He said that, “Our mission statement is to maintain honor and respect for all the sacrifices made for our country by its veterans and their families.” He praised Gold Star mothers and said they are “owed a debt of gratitude and respect from everyone because of the ultimate sacrifices of their sons and daughters that were made to help keep this wonderful country free.” He explained that when an individual enters the military, they basically sign a blank check promising to give their all and, if necessary, their lives to keep Americans free.

In the benediction, Judy Stebbins, president of the Nevada Garden Clubs, said, “Today we remember those who sacrificed so much in war for our country and those whom they left behind … we remember them and pray for that day when wars shall cease and the energies and treasures and youth of the nations will be employed to enrich the lives of all the children on the face of the earth.”

Thanks to a couple of Boy Scouts in Boulder City and Henderson, the public is reminded about remembering those who have sacrificed.

Chuck N. Baker is a Vietnam War veteran and a Purple Heart recipient. He can be heard each day on KUNV-FM narrating “America’s Veterans Today and Tomorrow,” one-minute informative news bites.

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