Boy Scouts honor veterans laid to rest at small cemeteries in Harrison, Arkansas

HARRISON, Ark. -- A shove into the ground and a swift salute were repeated more than a dozen times this week.

"We're doing this for the veterans that served for us," said Samuel Luyet, a Boy Scout.

Samuel Luyet's Boy Scout Troop worked their way through the tiny Mary Mother of God Cemetery to make sure all 17 veterans' graves had a flag.

"It's something that we've been doing for years now. The scouts want to pay their respects to the veterans," said Wes Bradford, the Boy Scout Troop 610 charter organization representative.

It's a yearly tradition. But it was their first time at Mary Mother of God Cemetery.

"Had a good long life," said Marlene Rowe.

Rowe's husband, Norman, was a U.S. Army veteran who died two years ago. She's on the cemetery committee, which asked the Scouts if they'd honor veterans this year.

"I was just overwhelmed," Rowe said.

But instead of adding to their list of stops, it essentially became the list.

Larger cemeteries, including Maplewood, canceled Memorial Day ceremonies over coronavirus concerns, leaving the scouts searching for a way to keep their tradition alive.

"We felt that we could do it in a way that would be safe," Bradford said.

The troop added masks to their uniforms and agreed to visit Rowe's husband's grave and 16 others.

"I was so happy that they did," Rowe said.

Bringing happiness to a holiday that's difficult for many, and a swift reminder of the sacrifices so many made before.

"They're taught to respect those who have fought and died for the freedoms they get to enjoy every day. And it's something that's really easy to take for granted," Bradford said.

The troop also went to Hopewell Cemetery and honored about 30 veterans there.