Downey Cemetery receives 100 crosses on Pearl Harbor anniversary

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The Downey Cemetery District received 100 crosses for future use during patriotic holidays during a Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony held last Thursday at Downey Cemetery.

The crosses were donated and the ceremony led by 15-year-old Eagle Scout Thomas Giese of Venturing Crew 181, who -with help from his troop- handmade the crosses as part of his Summit Project.

“I was looking for something meaningful to me,” said Giese. “I knew that this cemetery put up the crosses on veterans’ graves, so I wanted to see if I could build more…There’s a lot of veterans here, so a lot of crosses were getting torn down and all that; so, I thought maybe I could make some more crosses, new ones, as well.”

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There is a history of military service in Giese’s family, including his father who was a 20-year veteran of the Marine Corps. Giese also has plans to join the service one day as well.

“Veterans have always been a huge part of my life, other than my father,” said Giese. “I have a lot of friends that are joining the military, and a lot of friends that are retired now. The veterans, they have protected the country for a long time and I have a lot of respect for them.”

Giese’s father, Lt. Col. John Giese (retd), said that there are a number of things that the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack reinforces.

“There is hope and courage and compassion that you can find, even in your darkest moments,” Lt. Col. Giese said. “In addition to that, the aftereffect of that, it really shows what Americans can do when they’re united…with each generation we’re always going to find events that inspire us…in generations to come, whether it’s Pearl Harbor or the events of September 11th, I think each generation will look to those events as way to reinforce what is meaningful to them as an American.”

Thursday marked the 76th anniversary of the attack.

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The 100 crosses were accepted by David R. Gafin and Brian Heyman, Chair and Vice Chair of the Downey Cemetery District Board of Trustees.

“It’s a pleasure to see young men like what is represented today from Boy Scouts come in and consider things other than themselves, which most youths seem to do,” said Gafin. “We really thank Boy Scouts, especially Mr. Giese for putting these together…it’s always an honor to respect our veterans alive and deceased, and this is an especially warm tribute to them.”

During the ceremony, Giese was also given a proclamation from the Office of Janice Hahn.