Girl Scouts help VFW place flags at Mount Pleasant Cemetery

Published: May. 28, 2023 at 10:28 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Memorial Day weekend is a special time to honor those who have served in our armed forces. On Saturday, many generations came together to honor our fallen heroes.

Every sunrise, the birds of Mount Pleasant sing a comforting tune at the final resting place of the thousands of South Dakotans they watch over. Hundreds of whom are veterans. This Memorial Day weekend, the gates opened and the changing of the guard put the graves under the watchful eye of a different troop.

“The coolest part was seeing how much we accomplished,” said Girl Scout Echo.

“We cleared the graves so fast, we put all the flags in pretty well,” another Girl Scout named Maya said.

Girl Scouts and their families began assisting the VFW in honoring the memory of fallen heroes with the flag they pledged allegiance to. Something the troop first started doing last year.

“They’re protecting our country,” said Athena, a participating scout.

“They sacrificed themselves to protect the country and their family,” said Lily, another Girl Scout.

Memorial Day weekend has a unique significance to Vietnam Veteran Jim McQuisten. McQuisten enlisted in 1967 and served in Vietnam in 1969 and 1970. He spent 15 months there working in finance where his main job was pay conversion for people going in and out of the country. Yesterday, he celebrated 53 years of being back home.

“That’s the day I got out of the service, on May 26th, 1970. Before that, I remember going to Memorial Day cemeteries and planting flowers for the family plot,” McQuisten explained.

He comes from a long line of service members.

“Just about everybody. My dad served, uncle Bob, uncle Elmer, uncle Frank, my two brothers, grandpa on both sides. I guess the thing is how many didn’t serve, you know, we pretty much all served,” said McQuisten.

McQuisten kept the tradition going and he continues to serve, even if it might look a little different now. Today, he serves alongside the next generation.

“Working with the kids is absolutely fantastic. They’re enthusiastic, they’re energetic, and it’s a good way for them to learn Americanism, all about the military, and what the military did. It’s just a win-win proposition for everybody,” said McQuisten.

Troop leader and service unit event coordinator, Emma Callahan, has a friend from the VFW and started their partnership to join the VFW in placing flags at the cemetery.

“It’s kind of amazing to watch the girls get so excited about it. Talking to some of the veterans that are out here helping, it’s neat to watch that interaction, see those connections build. It’s just almost magical to see,” said Troop Leader Cassandra Benson.

With two years now already in the books, this Girl Scout Troop plans on being back at Mount Pleasant Cemetery for every Memorial Day.