By Luke Baynes
Despite temperatures that hovered in the mid-40s and wind gusts that reached 15 mph, Avery Caterer was smiling as he stood in Williston’s East Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, dressed only in the short-sleeved uniform of Williston Boy Scout Troop 692.
Unperturbed by the weather, Caterer plunged the faux gold-plated blade of a ceremonial shovel into the earth to mark the groundbreaking of a kiosk that will serve as a guide to locate the tombstones of the military veterans laid to rest within the cemetery’s confines.
A 16-year-old junior at Champlain Valley Union High School, Life Scout Caterer spearheaded the kiosk initiative in conjunction with the Williston Cemetery Commission as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project, which tests the leadership skills of those seeking the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts.
The final resting places of over 100 veterans will be indicated on the completed kiosk – at least one of whom served in the War of 1812.
“I’m really hoping that it’s going to raise awareness about how many veterans there are,” Caterer said. “Before this project, I really didn’t know how many veterans have fought for us just from this state – and just from this town, even – so learning that was a wakeup call.”
The kiosk – which will be located in the upper left corner of section 3 of the cemetery, near the border of the Johnson Farm – will measure 7 feet by 9 feet and will be set 3 feet above the ground. A Lexan cover will be installed to protect the wooden structure from the elements and hinged doors will be locked at night to guard the memorial against vandalism.
Caterer said he would like to have the project completed by Memorial Day (May 28), although it will be contingent on raising the necessary funding.
To date, he has raised $350 of the roughly $700 needed to see the project through to completion.
Caterer noted that while the primary purpose of the kiosk is to honor both those who died for their country and those who have since passed from the earth following military service, he hopes that it will also serve as a reminder of the active military personnel who continue to put themselves in harm’s way in defense of freedom.
“I’ve met people who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s kind of sobering to learn what goes on,” Caterer said. “So I figure the more recognition they get, the better.”
Those wishing to make a donation toward the construction of the cemetery kiosk can send a check to Troop 692 Treasurer, 489 Metcalf Drive, Williston, VT, 05495. Checks should be made payable to: “Williston Troop 692.”