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Boy Scouts honor 5,000 veteran graves

Posted by admin on May 22, 2013

Boy Scout Troop to honor 5,000 veterans with U.S. flags for Memorial Day in memory of deceased scoutmaster

Several local organizations helped a local Boy Scout troop honor the wishes of Mike Civiletti, who was killed by a drunken driver in 2006.

GREECE, NY – Boy Scout Troop 195 is fulfilling a deceased scoutmaster’s dream of honoring the more than 5,000 veterans buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery with a U.S. flag for Memorial Day.

Before his death, Boy Scout Troop 195 Assistant Scoutmaster Mike Civiletti and his son, Paul, orchestrated an effort to replace worn flags on veterans’ graves every year for Memorial Day. They raised enough funds every year to flag up to 800 of the more than 5,000 graves in the military section at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Mike never realized his dream of flagging all of the graves. On Oct. 14, 2006, he was killed by a drunken driver after leaving church.

Boy Scout Troop 195 kept Mike’s efforts alive by continuing to flag veterans’ graves for Memorial Day. They never raised enough funds to flag more than 1,300 graves – until now. “Mike wouldn’t give up. He was determined to flag every veterans’ grave every year for Memorial Day,” said Jason Patterson of Greece, Troop 195 scoutmaster. “Thanks to the groundswell of community support, we’ve finally made this happen 12 years after Mike first started this effort.”

The following groups helped Troop 195 raise the $5,000 needed to buy flags for the veterans’ graves:

  • The Knights of Columbus, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery and Excellus BlueCross BlueShield donated money to help Boy Scout Troop 195 purchase the more than 5,000 flags.
  • George Polosky, manager of the Veterans Outreach Center’s Stars & Stripes Flag Store, helped bring the various parties together to support Troop 195 and will supply the flags for the Memorial Day effort. Obtaining the flags through the store also supports the Veterans Outreach Center’s community programs and services.

Mike, a father of three from Greece, was a software engineer at Excellus BCBS when he died. Mike served in the U.S. Navy for a few months in 1981 before leaving with an honorable medical discharge. “Serving for a short time in the Navy prompted my father to dedicate his life to helping veterans, whether he was flagging veterans’ graves for Memorial Day or volunteering 1,500 hours a year at the VA Medical Centers in Batavia and Canandaigua,” said Paul Civiletti, Mike’s son. “He also worked with other veterans groups, including the Disabled American Veterans and Catholic War Veterans of the United States of America.”

Mike was also active with the American Diabetes Association and led a church choir with his wife, Regina. Troop 195 will place the flags at veterans’ graves following a short ceremony with Mike’s family at his grave starting at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 23.

At the ceremony, the Knights of Columbus and American Legion Greece Post 468 honor guards will play ”Taps,” and Greece-based Vay-Schleich & Meeson Funeral and Cremation Chapels will donate tents and refreshments. The Patriot Guard Riders of New York are also expected to attend the ceremony.

“This is about recognizing the sacrifices veterans have made for our country, and we greatly appreciate the efforts by Boy Scout Troop 195,” said Lynn Sullivan, chief financial officer, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. “We also recognize that not all veterans are buried in the military sections of our cemeteries.  From May 24 through Memorial Day, we will make flags available at no charge to families who wish to honor veterans buried in other sections of our Holy Sepulchre and Ascension Garden locations.”

The Boy Scout flags will remain on veterans’ graves through Flag Day on June 14. Following Flag Day, the flags will be removed and stored for next year so the project can be continued. Troop 195 includes 52 scouts and 30 adults. The troop is based in Greece, but includes members from throughout the northwest parts of Monroe County.

“Mike was a great family man, a great religious man, a man who embodied our troop’s mission of giving back to veterans and our community,” said Patterson of Troop 195. “The flagging of veterans’ graves is something that’s special to our troop and we’re grateful for the community support that has helped us remember Mike and the other men and women who’ve served our country,” he added.

About Holy Sepulchre Cemetery

Holy Sepulchre Cemetery is an independent, non-profit religious corporation serving the Catholic community and their loved ones in Monroe and surrounding counties.  Founded in 1871, Holy Sepulchre Cemetery, located at 2461 Lake Avenue in Rochester, N.Y., and Ascension Garden, located at 1900 Pinnacle Road in Henrietta, N.Y., are places for Christian burial that reflect the respect for the human person, belief in resurrection of the body and hope of eternal life.  Holy Sepulchre and Ascension Garden offer in ground burials as well as entombments in above ground mausoleums.  For more information, visit www.holysepulchre.org or call Holy Sepulchre at 585-458-4110 or Ascension Garden at 585-967-1122.