Boy Scout locates veterans’ gravesites, memorializes them
GONZALES, La. (AP) — A cemetery in Gonzales that dates back to the 1840s is the final resting place of veterans who served in almost every major U.S. conflict from the Civil War to the Iraq War.
A bench and a marker at the Cornerview Road site now memorialize their service thanks to the efforts of Joseph Lambert, a Gonzales Boy Scout who did the research about the veterans interred there.
Over the summer and early fall, Lambert drew up a list of 88 veterans whose gravesites are known.
He also discovered the names of five other veterans whose graves couldn’t be located in the roughly 170-year-old cemetery “but we know they’re there,” he said.
Joseph, 16, the son of Kevin and Michelle Lambert, earned his Eagle Scout rank in October for his work on the project.
“The military is something that’s always amazed me, and I think it’s in my future,” said Joseph, a sophomore at St. Amant High who’s also a member of the school’s Naval Junior ROTC.
“He did a very good job with his project,” Scoutmaster Darren Poche said, adding that Joseph just finished his term as Troop 65 senior patrol leader, a position elected by the scouts themselves.
“He did exceptionally well” in that role, Poche said.
The cemetery has special meaning for Joseph’s family.
His great-aunt Rose Fair, who died in 2011, is buried there. Fair had chosen the cemetery, with the help of her sister and Joseph’s grandmother, Jerri Lambert.
“I took her to several different cemeteries,” Jerri Lambert said. “When she saw this one, she liked it. ... It’s very peaceful.”
Jerri Lambert has decided that she and her husband, Willie, will be buried there, too, one day, near her sister.
Jerri Lambert often visited the cemetery, called the Sacred Heart Cemetery at Cornerview, after a Catholic church that once stood there, and was intrigued by its history, with gravesites dating to more than a century ago.
With the help of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, she’s been able to compile a list of names of the more than 2,000 people buried there.
Not all of the graves are marked, she said. And there was no information on military veterans, until her grandson took up the challenge.
Through websites like the National Park Service and FamilySearch.org, Joseph learned of the veterans and the military branches they served in: the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Louisiana National Guard, the Army Air Corps (circa 1926 to 1941), and the Confederate State Army.
The Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War and Iraq War are some of the military conflicts these veterans saw in their day.
Joseph said he “spent many, many hours walking the cemetery” to be able to provide maps showing the locations of the known veteran grave sites to St. Theresa of Avila Catholic Church in Gonzales, which oversees the cemetery, as well as American Legion Post 81 in Gonzales.
In the future, organizations that memorialize the graves of veterans on national holidays will be able to include the Sacred Heart Cemetery at Cornerview, Joseph said.
“We would like to encourage all of our youth and young adults to participate in activities that help them gain perspective in life,” St. Theresa Deacon Jodi Moscona said.
Through his Eagle Scout project, Moscona said, Joseph learned about veterans “who had made sacrifices for his freedom. It brought some of those (national) holidays into perspective for him.”
Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com