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Memorial day: Girl Scout Gold Award honors service men and women

By September 28, 2010

Enterprise staff writer

What was once just a flagpole set in concrete in front of St. James School recently became much more than that, thanks to a local Girl Scout who wanted to honor her grandfather.

Heather Kerr, a senior at Davis High School, has transformed the small area in front of the school into a memorial for service men and women, complete with two benches, tribute stones set in the ground and a variety of foliage that will all produce white blossoms Ñ a color Kerr picked because, she said, Òit represents peace.

ÒPeace for our country, peace for the dead, peace for the families of the dead.Ó

For her efforts, Kerr will receive her Girl Scout Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can receive.

But for Kerr, it was really about honoring her grandfather, Martin Sondej.

ÒI wanted to do something for my grandpa, who was in the military,Ó she said. ÒIÕve always wanted to honor him in some way.Ó

She decided the best way to do that would be by creating a memorial to all service men and women.

She first approached folks at the Davis Cemetery to see if a memorial could be built there, but they already had plans for a memorial underway. Next she approached St. James, where she is a parishioner, and they were all for it.

ThatÕs when the real work began.

ÒThe most time-consuming part was finding a site and the funding,Ó she said. ÒI wanted a central spot where people could sit and see everything and just reflect.Ó

The area around the flagpole right near B Street proved to be just the site.

Kerr prepared plans and presentations and addressed both the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Ñ who had actually erected the flagpole in front of St. James in 1994 Ñ and the Rotary Club of Davis. The VFW ended up donating $500 for the memorial, while the Rotary Club kicked in $900. The local Girl Scout service unit provided a $75 grant for some finishing touches.

Next she worked with local landscape architect Kerry Loux and St. James gardener Jeff Poarch, who helped her through the process, which would include everything from digging up grass, to laying down decomposed granite, to planting flowers.

The actual work got underway one weekend last Spring. Kerr and her many helpers Ñ including her parents, both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and her fellow DHS Madrigals Ñ took down the flagpole, sanded and repainted it; dug up the grass, laid the decomposed granite and planted daisies, agapanthus, snow-in-the-summer and white rhaphiolepis.

Early on in the process, Kerr had decided to honor not just military service men and women, but also those who served in fire and rescue. She ordered six granite tribute stones, one each for the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Fire and Rescue. On each, she had inscribed the saying, ÒIf love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.Ó

She chose the saying, she said, Òbecause it applies to everyone, the basic human love for each other.Ó

The stones are placed in a circle in the ground, surrounding an agapanthus. On either side, are stone benches Kerr and her father placed.

All in all, sheÕs very happy with the result.

ÒYou donÕt realize how detailed these projects get,Ó she noted. ÒMy vision of it did change a lot from the beginning, but the final result is everything I wanted it to be.

ÒI just wanted to do something different,Ó she added, Òsomething that would be around a long time and have an impact. I didnÕt think I would be able to pull it off when I started, but there were so many people helping me and it just came together.Ó

Ñ Reach Anne Ternus-Bellamy at (530) 747-8051 or [email protected] Comment on this story at http://www.davisenterprise.com

Anne Ternus-Bellamy

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