(OnFocus) Headstones for veterans at Hillside Cemetery were returned to their former glory thanks to an Eagle Scout service project.
Alex Weis, now 16, a sophomore at Stratford High School who earned his Eagle Scout rank this July, undertook the cleaning of weathered headstones of veterans from World War I to Vietnam.
Two rounds of cleaning were completed in September and October 2017 with Troop 388 of Stratford and volunteers. The headstones were transformed in some cases from barely readable to a polished white.
“We sprayed them down, and then in spring we eventually had to scrub them off to clean the stones of moss,” said Weis.
Funds were raised through the annual Salute a Soldier 5K event organized by the family of Army Staff Sgt. Joe Altmann, who was killed Christmas Day 2011 in Kunar Province, Afghanistan after an insurgent attack. The run is held the third Saturday in May on Armed Forces Day with proceeds going back to the community.
The idea was first brought to Weis’s father by Joe’s mother, Jan Altmann. After meeting with her and seeing how much it would mean to the family, Weis knew it would be his duty to take on the project. He also felt a project involving veterans would mean a lot to scouting, with the strong history of Boy Scouts going into the military.
“He was amazing in getting the organization and volunteers needed to take on this project,” said Altmann. “Every veteran deserves this last bit of respect, and in visiting the cemetery more and more these past years, we just saw the condition of the stones and knew it would just take some time and lots of ‘elbow grease’ to get this done. A big thanks also goes out to Marshfield Monument for their part in getting these stones straightened up, as it was not an easy project.”
About 60 hours were committed to the endeavor, Weis estimates. “I was really happy with the way it turned out and proud of our troop for representing well. We had well over the amount of people I estimated originally,” he said. “It was good that we were giving back to the community in service hours since they give to us with fundraisers.”
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