The first year that First Fort Langley Scouts decided to clean the headstones of the fallen before Remembrance Day in 2017, about a dozen took part. This year, four troops will be participating. (Langley Advance Times file)

More take part in annual cleanup of veteran’s headstones in Fort Langley

Since the initiative by local scouts started in 2017, the numbers have quadrupled

On Saturday, Nov. 2, nine days before Remembrance Day services are held at the Fort Langley Cemetery and Cenotaph at 23105 St. Andrew’s Street, three scout troops and one Girl Guide section will spent several hours using water, brooms, brushes and toothbrushes to gently and respectfully clean each veteran’s headstone.

Since it started, interest in the cleanup project has grown, and so has the number of participants, said Scout leader Johnathan Meads.

“It’s amazing,” Meads commented.

His scouts didn’t need any prompting when he brought it up this year, he observed.

“They said, ‘of course we’re going to do it.”

In 2017, the first year, it was a trial run with just Meads and the newly-formed First Fort Langley scout troop (formerly part of the Walnut Grove troop) who tended tended to the veterans headstones.

A year later, the number doubled, with the Walnut Grove scout troop joining.

Langley author and historian Warren Sommer attended to educate the participants about the the history of the cemetery and the cenotaph.

Now, the number has doubled again, with the addition of Willoughby scout troop and the Willoughby District Guides.

“We can actually do a full garbage sweep [this time],” Meads noted.

“We can also clean up the leaves.”

The clean-up is not open to the public.

READ MORE: VIDEO: Scouts clean headstones in Fort Langley veterans cemetery

READ MORE: Scouts honour the fallen of Fort Langley

On Remembrance Day, the cemetery will be the site of what is expected to be the largest memorial service in the Langleys, with thousands expected to attend.

In 2018, the federal government approved $24.4 million for Veterans Affairs Canada and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission to spend over the next five years to address urgently needed repairs to more than 57,000 veterans gravesites and grave markers.

In B.C. about 22 per cent of the repairs have been completed to date.



dan.ferguson@langleyadvancetimes.com

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