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Boy Scout Honors Vets

Veterans Day took on a special meaning for Hicksville High School freshman, Nolan Mingst this year, as he took time to commemorate Medal of Honor recipients from over 100 years ago by placing citations and plaques on their graves at Cyprus Hill National and Private cemeteries.  

One of the requirements of achieving the rank of Eagle Scout is completing a community service project. Mingst, who is part of Troop 930, has several family members who are veterans, and thought documenting citations and plaques for Medal of Honor recipients would be a good learning experience and good way to give back to the community.

The first step of Mingst’s project was research. He had a list of 24 recipients buried at the Cyprus Hill National Cemetery when he got his proposal approved, but upon further research using the Congressional Medal of Honor website, he saw that there were more people buried at the Cyprus Hill Private Cemetery that were not on his list. He decided to include the additional 11 names in his project, saying that the medal recipients at the private cemetery “deserved to be respected.”

The seven month long project required a lot of work, and many people joined together to make it a success. Several businesses donated or offered discounts on the tools and supplies Mingst used for his project. A sign company offered him a discounted rate on making citations and donated the signs. He received a discount on the wood for the plaques, as well as from the sign company that made the citations. The sign company donated signs, and the plumping and piping for the poles were all donated.

“It made me happy knowing that even though these people didn’t know me they cared and understood who the real heroes were,” Mingst said.

Mingst also had a lot of help from his fellow scouts. Scouts from his own troops and others helped with constructing the plaques, painting the pipes, and oiling the wood, as well as with fundraising. On Veterans Day, Mingst and some fellow troop members traveled to Cyprus Hills in Brooklyn to place the plaques. The boys placed 34 plaques, on graves that went back 100 to 150 years.  

Before Mingst becomes an official Eagle Scout, his project has to go through the Board of Review. He says that the project has taught him a lot of heroism and how “what these people did was really brave and they were courageous actions that wouldn’t occur in a daily life.”

“I found out a lot more information than I expected. The (project) gave me a whole new perspective on history and veterans, and opened me up to the world around me,” says Mingst. “It showed me that there are veterans everywhere, and that they should all be treated with respect.”

Mingst hopes that his project will encourage other scouts to do something for the veterans in their communities.

“Hopefully this can inspire other scouts, not just from Long Island and even the country, to find out about these veterans from their hometown and give them respect and honor them,” Mingst said.