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Matthew Quesenberry Jr. of Boy Scout Troop 199 is providing area residents with a way to honor veterans this holiday and help him fulfill his Eagle Scout project of constructing a monument for Vietnam-era veterans at Memorial Park.
In order to fund the monument, Quesenberry is selling patriotic star ornaments that can be labeled to honor veterans of every era, whether living or deceased. The ornaments, priced at $2 each, will hang on a special holiday remembrance tree in the lobby of Northwest Savings Bank in downtown St. Marys. The display will be visible beginning today until Jan. 3, 2012. For an additional $1, a card will be sent to the veteran or family informing them that an ornament has been purchased in the veteran's honor.
"Most of the monuments that we do have in St. Marys are for all wars. There's not one specifically set aside for the Vietnam era," Quesenberry said. "Upon getting home from Vietnam, many of these men were not given a welcome home, and I hope that this project will serve as their welcome home."
Quesenberry and other members of Troop 199, which is sponsored by Elk County Tool and Die, were required to obtain approval through the scouts for any tentative Eagle Scout project they wished to pursue. Quesenberry said he got the idea for his Eagle Scout project following a field trip to a military museum.
"I had gone to a field trip to a World War II museum up in Eldred, and the man who spoke to us stressed the idea that we should start to thank veterans that we see out in public, so I started to do that -- anyone with a cap, or a jacket, or anything else like that, I would thank them for their service, and I found out that most of them had been Vietnam, and they would then tell me about their experience coming back home," Quesenberry said. "And then I started to do my own research about the war itself. And then the idea just kind of grew from there."