Eagle Scout project pays homage to veterans
By Tina Johansson For Sun-Times Media August 25, 2013 9:04PM
To help earn his Eagle Scout badge, Boy Scout Ryan Hopkins of Zion compiled a Veterans Log, indicating all veterans from the Civil War to the Vietnam conflict who are buried at Pineview Memorial Park Cemetery in Beach Park. The logs were presented on Saturday. | TINA JOHANSSON~FOR SUN-TIMES MEDIA
Updated: October 25, 2013 2:22AM
More flags will be flying on Memorial Day thanks to a young man from Zion.
In a painstaking, two-year project, 16-year-old Ryan Hopkins, a student at Zion-Benton High School’s new Tech Campus, worked to identify the gravesites of every single veteran buried at Pineview Memorial Park Cemetery in Beach Park. He also found the branch of service, the ranks and the cause of death of the veterans.
Ryan is in the process of earning the highest rank attainable from the Boys Scouts of America — Eagle Scout — and he hopes the project will lead him that much closer to his goal.
On Saturday, veterans, village officials and fellow Boy Scouts joined him by attending a presentation in which a book and a compact disc he compiled of his findings were given to three organizations.
Under the cool shade of trees on the cemetery lawn, Ryan addressed the crowd. “... I’m only a few steps away from my biggest dream, which is being an Eagle Scout,” he said.
Among those receiving the logs were American Legion Homer Dahringer Post No. 281 based in Waukegan; Pineview Memorial Park; and the Zion Historical Society.
There are currently 244 veterans at the cemetery whose gravesites are properly marked. Through his project, Ryan was able to locate 100 additional veterans buried there.
“We were happy he took on the project because we didn’t know where all the veterans were (buried),” said Duane Peacy of Zion, commander of Post 281.
Every Memorial Day, the American Legion post and the Boy Scouts work together at Pineview Cemetery and place small American Flags on the graves of soldiers.
After Ryan made remarks and explained how he went about collecting the data on military members, Reverend Kwadwo “K” Ntim, pastor of Memorial United Methodist Church in Zion, said a prayer.
LeRoy Vern of Waukegan, past commander of American Legion Post 281 signed his name to a Boy Scout document for Ryan — one of the final steps toward becoming an Eagle Scout.
It is unclear how old Pineview Cemetery is; however there are veterans buried there that go as far back as the Civil War. WWI vet and Waukegan resident Homer Dahringer, for whom Post 281 is named, is also buried at Pineview.