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Girl Scouts join tradition to honor veterans

Girl Scouts from Troop 3478 placed new flags on the graves of veterans on Nov. 9 in honor of Veterans Day.

The local troop was established five years ago and has grown to 26 scouts, said assistant troop leader Amber Purvis. Saturday was the first time the troop participated in placing flags at graves, said Purvis, and she was excited for the kids to experience it.

James Breland has placed flags on local veterans’ graves for Veterans Day and Memorial Day since he was knee high, he said. Breland, Lee Byrd and a group of their friends have carried on the tradition. The first year Byrd participated, they placed 20 flags, but are up to 200 now.

Troop leader Dana Davis worked with Breland to organize the Girl Scouts joining in the tradition. In past years, Breland and Lee paid for the flags, but this year Troop 3478 fundraised to purchase them.

Byrd’s mother and father both served in the military, and she spoke passionately about the sacrifices they made in military service.

“I love our country,” Byrd said. “I’m so proud of these girls to have respect for it.”

The girls removed old weathered flags and placed them in a cardboard box to be properly retired. Then they positioned new flags by the graves and hammered them into the grass.

That day, the Girl Scouts visited the Poplarville Cemetery and the Forrest Lawn Cemetery. The troop hopes to expand to other cemeteries in future years, said Dana’s husband Reggie Davis, and hopes that more Girl Scout troops will join them.

Girl Scouts Peyton Hartzog and Chloe Chaisson were enthusiastic about hammering new flags into the grass. They worked together to make sure flags were securely in the ground.

“I think it’s nice that we get to be part of it and do it,” Chaisson said.

Angela Chaisson said she is glad her daughter Chloe joined the Girl Scouts.

“I think it’s very special for the girls to experience and to understand freedoms are not just a privilege,” Chaisson said.

Brownie Gracee Kong begged her mom to let her join the Girl Scouts, because she wanted to learn new things and learn about how to be helpful. Her favorite part of scouting is helping people, Kong said.

Gracee and her mother, Sky, worked together to place flags in the ground. The Girl Scout troop is helping make Gracee a productive member of society, said Sky.

Brayden Fletcher joined the Girl Scouts to make friends and volunteer.

“Girl Scouts makes me feel like I can be myself,” Fletcher said.

While she also joined for the outdoor experiences, Fletcher’s least favorite scouting experience was kayaking.

There are eight Girl Scout troops in Pearl River County. Anyone interested in joining Troop 3478 can join online at girlscouts.org. The troop meets every other Friday at 6 p.m. in the Pearl River Community College nursing building.