While Trail Life Troops across the country have made a tradition of honoring our country's fallen heroes by placing flags at the tombs of veterans during Memorial Day weekend, this year, in the wake of Coronavirus, Trail Life USA and other groups have been barred from carrying out mass flag placements of this sort.
Trail Life CEO, Mark Hancock recently spoke about the decision to restrict this tradition. "How will we be able to look [the boys] in the eye," Hancock said, "and tell them that we couldn’t figure out how to put masks on them and keep them six feet apart in a cemetery to honor the ones that have gone before them, but now we need the same exceptional young men to execute a complex battle plan and possibly sacrifice their lives."
He pointed out that young people are struggling the least against the virus, so they’re the best individuals to go the cemetery, and said that they can go one at a time, pray, and tend to the tombstone.
"That act of honoring the fallen one day will speak to them," he said of the emotional impact on the Trailmen during the flag placements. "It's how we create empathy and an appreciation for sacrifice. It's the antidote to selfishness."
Many Troops are planning to visit local cemeteries, since the ban only pertains to national ones.
Troop TN-0101 Takes Action
When a Trail Life Troop heard about the cancellation of the National Police Week Memorial Ceremony in Clarksville, TN they decided to do something private and very special.
ClarksvilleNOW reported that, "On Friday, May 15th, and without any fanfare, Miles Foster, Clayton Bollinger, Gareth Perez, Abram Fortson, Will Wilford, Corbin Watson, and Curtis Watson conducted their own wreath laying ceremony at the Clarksville Police Department’s Protector Memorial.
The young men are members of the Trail Life USA Troop 0101, which is sponsored by the Grace Lutheran Church, in Clarksville. Under the direction of Troop Master Gabriel Perez, the ceremony was very meticulously performed.
The wreath honored officers that made the ultimate sacrifice from the Clarksville Police Department and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Clarksville Police Chief Al Ansley met the young men, thanked them, and gave them all departmental challenge coins.
The Clarksville Police Department said they appreciate the young men, their parents, and other troop volunteers, for taking the time out of their day to help honor those who have fallen with such a great gesture."
Mark Hancock, CEO of Trail Life USA, spoke with Robyn Walensky during “Wake Up Memphis” on KWAM The Mighty 990 about the decision by the Department of Veterans Affairs to ban public events at cemeteries because of coronavirus.
Grace Baker at The Mighty 990 AM, Michael Patterson at ClarksvilleNow.com, and Trail Life USA staff contributed to this article.