• Making a Difference: Scout to recognize anonymous in cemetery

  • For years, some graves in Independence’s oldest cemetery have gone unmarked.

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  • For years, some graves in Independence’s oldest cemetery have gone unmarked.
    In some cases, the families of the deceased couldn’t afford headstones. For others, the headstones were stolen over the years.
    When it came time to select a project to earn his Eagle Scout rank, 13-year-old Ethan Freiley saw the potential in 20 unmarked graves at Woodlawn Cemetery in the 700 block of South Noland Road.
    Ethan, an eighth grader at Bingham Middle School, along with members of Troop 161 from East Alton Community of Christ, will work the next two weekends to make the vision a reality. On Saturday, Ethan will organize a group in making the boxes and pouring the concrete for the headstones.
    Then, next weekend, they’ll place the headstones in the ground, at last giving those unmarked spaces names, once again.
    Says Ethan’s mother, Felisa Freiley: “He’s had to do this all on his own, without any help – getting fundraisers set up and he typed up the letter to send out to people for donations. I think he’s a pretty well-rounded leader.
    “I’m just kind of amazed that he thought of this project and that he was thinking of other people. I don’t know if these families are still around to come out and see these headstones, but it would be neat if they were. (Ethan) wanted to run with this and make it a unique project on his own.”
    How did you get the idea for this project?
    A lady that I know in the troop gave me this idea and gave me some people to call. I called these people, and they said it was fine to do it. So, then I started asking around for donations.
    What interested you about this project, instead of doing something else for your Eagle project?
    Ever since I’ve been in the troop, people have been building nature trails and stuff. I just wanted to make something unique and that lasts awhile.
    What kind of research and background work did you have to do to make this project a reality?
    I had to go up to the cemetery and had to research 20 different names. I had to also figure out all the costs for the wood to build the boxes and everything else. (The boxes) are to pour the concrete in for the headstone. The nameplate will sit on top of the concrete.
    My dad’s company, Steel Manufacturing in downtown Kansas City, his boss provided the steel. One of his customers, a laser cutter, cut all of the names and dates out.
    What do you hope your project will be able to give back to the community?
    Page 2 of 2 - When people go into Woodlawn Cemetery and go around and look at headstones, I want them to say, “Oh, that’s a cool headstone,” or, “It’s unique because it’s got metal in it,” or something like that.
    Why have you remained active in Boy Scouts, and why are you trying to work toward the Eagle?
    My dad’s been pushing me through Boy Scouts ever since I was little, and I’ve been looking up to the older boys as they’ve been getting Eagle. Also, my grandpa, he got Eagle at the age of 13, so I was trying to set my goal at that – I’m working my best to get it done.

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