One hundred fifty six years ago, President Abraham Lincoln told loyal Americans that “To the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure devotion.”

Today, those words long ago addressed by Lincoln to a country riven with partisan rancor are still taken to heart, by the Boy Scouts of Troop 127 of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Abbottstown. On a rainy Dec. 14, they laid wreaths on 78 veteran graves in the graveyard that borders the church in rural Adams County some 17 miles from the spot Lincoln asked for that increased devotion.

The Scouts, led by Scout Master Kevin Depaulis, laid wreaths in an East Berlin cemetery in the morning, before returning to the parish to participate in the solemn ceremony in which dozens of parishioners supported the Scouts. After the National Anthem was reverently sung by Kathy Schwar, Father Philip Burger blessed the wreaths before each Scout placed the wreaths on the graves of veterans that date as far back to the Revolutionary War and all the conflicts since. After the wreath laying, Scout leader Ryan Gebhart struck a poignant rendition of Taps, which was a fitting salute to the veterans passed and his fellow devoted Scouts.

“The neat thing about this, being our first year doing this wreath laying, is that it teaches the boys about respecting veterans and the freedoms we have in this country. We are very proud of our boys here,” Depaulis said.

By Chris Heisey, The Catholic Witness