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Eagle Scout Candidate Works to Ease Flag Placement at National Cemetery

Orland Park Sophomore Creating Flag Placing Tools for Veterans’ Graves


Finn Rafferty is overseeing the construction of flag placing tools for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

ORLAND PARK, IL (Jan 3, 2024) – Orland Park’s Finn Rafferty, 15, is on a mission to make flag placement easier at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery. For his Eagle Scout Project, the Carl Sandburg High School sophomore has chosen to create flag placing tools that will create holes for flags at veterans’ graves.


“There are two significant days for volunteers at the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery,” Rafferty said. “At Wreaths Across America, volunteers place wreaths on veterans’ graves and during Flags In, on the Friday before Memorial Day, volunteers place flags at the graves,” Rafferty said, adding that he has volunteered for both since he was five years old.

 

At the Flags In event, held the Friday before Memorial Day, nearly 62,000 flags are placed at veterans’ graves.

 

“On Memorial Day Weekend, the ground can be very dry and hard, making it difficult to use the flag itself to create a hole for the flag,” Rafferty said. “Many flags are accidentally broken or the flags don’t have the same uniformity because they’re not centered in front of the gravestone. Flag placing tools will help volunteers honor the veterans at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.”

 

With his Eagle Scout Project, Rafferty will create an opportunity for scouts to earn the welding merit badge. “We are going to create the tools by welding conduit and rebar,” he explained. “I plan to create 100 tools that will be donated to the cemetery.”


 

"Flag placing tools will help volunteers honor the veterans at

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.”

Eagle Scout Candidate Finn Rafferty

Orland Park Troop 318

 

 Rafferty does not have a set fundraising amount in mind and added, “Any money that’s left over will be donated to Wreaths Across America at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.”


A young Finn Rafferty (background) watches as his grandfather, Terry Martin, demonstrates the flag placing tool to younger brother, Ronan.

Rafferty has a personal connection to the cemetery with four family members buried there.

 

“My grandfather, Terry Martin, is buried there along with my great grandfather, Bill Martin, my great uncle Bob Plett, and George Dennis, my grandfather’s stepfather who was the state commander of the Nevada Veterans of Foreign Wars,” Rafferty said.

 

Located in Elwood, Illinois, the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery was dedicated on October 3, 1999 as the 117th national cemetery within the Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery Administration. When fully developed, the 982 acre cemetery will provide 400,000 burial spaces for veterans and their spouses. Burial in a national cemetery is open to all members of the armed forces who have met a minimum active duty service requirement and received an honorable discharge.

 

Rafferty is raising funds to help pay for the flag placing tools. He is hosting a bowling fundraiser on Friday, January 5 at Thunder Bowl in Mokena from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The $35 fee includes unlimited bowling, pizza, pop and shoes. Details can be found at https://shorturl.at/dtFT8.

 

Finn Rafferty is overseeing the building of flag placement tools for the Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery.

Rafferty’s family is active in Orland Park Troop 318 and will be helping with his efforts. “My mom, Colleen Martin, is a troop committee member and my brother, Ronan, is also a scout,” he said smiling.

 

The rank of Eagle Scout is the highest achievement in the Boy Scouts of America and attaining it requires meeting a number of criteria. Life Scouts must earn 21 merit badges, 13 of which are required for Eagle and they must hold the rank of Life Scout for a minimum of six months. Planning, overseeing and executing a community service project is a requirement as is passing an Eagle Board of Review.


According to Northern Star Scouting, “The Eagle Scout rank is a life-long achievement that's always carried a special significance. College, business, the military, and community service leaders all respect an Eagle Scout. This performance-based achievement has high standards that not everyone will earn. Only about 6 percent of all Scouts BSA members earn Eagle, making over two million Eagle Scouts since 1912.

 

Those wanting to help the project may donate via Zelle by sending contributions to RaffertyFinn3@Gmail.com. Questions about the project can be directed to Rafferty at RaffertyFinn3@Gmail.com.


 

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