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Teens Giving Back To Veterans Is The Right Thing To Do

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on September 30, 2004:

Senator Dyson A few weeks ago, I arranged a meeting with Secretary of Veterans Affairs George W. Owings, III, officials at the Cheltenham Veterans Cemetery and some veterans who wanted to express their concerns about conditions at the cemetery.

I am pleased to report that it was one of the most productive meetings I have held in quite some time. Clancy Lyall and Col. Jim Krilich, two local veterans advocate and good friends, joined us at the meeting and came up with a great suggestion. They asked if high school students who are required to fulfill 75 hours of community service before they graduate could use those hours to help maintain the sacred grounds at Cheltenham.

After we assured him that would fit the criteria, Clancy -- as is his wont -- made the point of immediately contacting St. Mary’s County Public Schools who have told him they want to participate.

The students will be responsible for planting shrubbery, cleaning debris from the grounds and generally helping to maintain the overall look of the cemetery. This is an excellent example of “thinking outside of the box.”

For years, because of budgetary problems, Cheltenham has had trouble maintaining their grounds because of lack of personnel. Now, through the volunteer service program, the high school students will be able to give back to their community by doing something noble.

Secretary Owings called the idea “wonderful” adding that “it will help them with their community service requirement, but more importantly it endears them to the veterans who are directly responsible for their freedom.”

In this time of war, I think it is extremely appropriate for our youngsters to help make Cheltenham the nicest place it can be to honor all of our veterans.

It is unfair for families to visit the graves of our veterans only to see high, unkempt grass and anything else unsightly. Our veterans cemeteries are hallowed grounds and it is essential that we make them look as pristine as possible. Currently, this program is currently being worked out jointly with Cheltenham and the St. Mary’s County Public Schools.

I plan to do whatever I can to make sure we get the involvement of the Calvert and Charles school systems as well.

I congratulate the Department of Maryland Veterans Affairs for being a strong supporter of this program, the youngsters who will volunteer for it, but most importantly Clancy Lyall and Col. Krilich for coming up with this great idea.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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