MUSCATINE, Iowa–Saturday, May 22, four Muscatine County Girl Scouts earned their Silver Awards and bridged from Cadets to Seniors. As Anna Comstock, Dani Dilley, Clarissa McNally, and Carter Wagg entered into the upper ranks of scouts in Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois, troop leaders took time to celebrate their transition and to highlight the work they have done honoring veterans over the last two years.
In order for scouts to earn their Silver Award, they must collectively choose and devote at least 50 hours to a service project of their choice that benefits their community. For their project, these scouts and others in their troops worked to better document and preserve the graves of veterans in Muscatine. Beginning in 2019, scouts identified the graves of as many veterans as they could in both Greenwood and Muscatine Memorial Park Cemeteries, recorded them, cleaned mossy headstones and reported damaged ones, and replaced broken flag holders when needed.
This process proved quite labor intensive, as the scouts had to use their knowledge of different military insignia to identify the war fought in and branch of service for some of the oldest headstones, work around the weather to finish their headstone cleaning, and communicate with funeral homes and veterans affairs to learn how to have broken or missing flag holders replaced. In total, the scouts documented the graves of approximately 1,440 veterans and cleaned and replaced flag holders for many of them.
To celebrate these girls’ achievements, Muscatine County Girl Scout Service Unit Recognitions Chair Mindy Stark organized a short ceremony for them in the veterans section of Greenwood Cemetery, where the scouts did the bulk of their service project. Aimee Williams of Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois congratulated the girls on their achievements, as only about 5% of scouts complete their Silver Awards. State Senator Mark Lofgren and Muscatine City Council Member DeWayne Hopkins presented each scout with a flag, and troop leaders presented them with badges for their Silver Awards and Senior rank.
Following their ceremony, the scouts felt glad about completing their Silver Award service project.
Reflecting on their work documenting and restoring veterans’ graves, Carter said, “we feel very honored to have done it and for the support of our community.”
“We like helping our community as much as possible,” added Clarissa.
The girls also expressed excitement about getting to take advantage of the new activities they will get to participate in as seniors, including holding regional and state leadership roles in the Girl Scouts organization, traveling, and planning and completing their Gold Awards, the highest awards Girl Scouts can earn.
Carter shared she particularly looks forward to, “being able to do better things and having more opportunities, especially with global travel.”