Honoring Those Who Gave All
by Scott Halasz
As part of his Eagle Scout project, Ethan created a database of the 2,500 veterans buried at the 25 Jewish Cemeteries of Greater Cincinnati. The ultimate intention of the project was to be able to place markers and flags at each of the gravesites.
“We started working with the database,” Ethan said. “We started trying to get markers. We want to get flags before Memorial Day, which was the goal, but not part of the project.”
Close to 1,000 graves have been flagged and marked. About half of the Walnut Hills cemetery was marked last May and another chunk was completed within the last week. And Ethan, a crew of helpers from the Valley Temple Men’s Club as well as some other Cincinnati-area families didn’t let the coronavirus keep them from getting all of the Montgomery cemetery marked recently as well.
Ethan is hoping the job is completely finished by Memorial Day 2021. There are 23 cemeteries left but many are near each other, much like the Temple Israel and Beth Abraham cemeteries in Oakwood, and some may only have one or two graves to mark.
“The markers will stay at the grave forever,” Ethan’s father, Eric, said. They are hoping to have the flags stay up year-round as well, but Mother Nature may have something to say about that.
“We’re certainly experimenting at this point,” Eric said, adding that they will replace any flags annually around Memorial Day.
Ethan’s effort earned him the Dan Beard Council’s Eagle Project of the Year Award. There were more than 350 Eagle Scouts in the 2019 class.
“It’s pretty cool,” Ethan said. “I had a very good feeling. I think my project was pretty solid. Lots of projects aren’t really impactful or meaningful to the scout.”
Many projects are temporary and involve building something that may affect a small group.
“I think mine is meaningful, impactful, long lasting and sustainable,” Ethan said. “I figured it had a pretty good chance of winning.”
While marking graves, Ethan and Eric were approached by cemetery visitors asking what they were doing.
“They were definitely moved by that,” Eric said. “People definitely appreciated it.”
Ethan also received some serious validation from a fellow scout, who had actually been working on a similar project but stopped because he thought it was too difficult.
“When he found out the fact that I won the award, I guess he tried to work on it again,” Ethan said. “That’s pretty neat.”