Marlborough teens restore veterans’ headstones at Maplewood Cemetery

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Marlborough teens restore veterans’ headstones at Maplewood Cemetery
Photo by/Cindy Zomar
NHS students from AMSA Ayush Singh, Manav Gupta and Vikram Kaushik, all seniors, do their part to restore veterans’ headstones at Marlborough’s Maplewood Cemetery.

By Cindy Zomar, Education Coordinator

MARLBOROUGH – A diverse group of teens from three different school districts and one home-schooled student chose to spend their Sunday afternoon, April 18, at the Maplewood Cemetery doing their best to clean and restore aging headstones of Marlborough’s veterans. 

What started with the Advanced Math and Science Academy’s (AMSA) Mark Vital and his Leaders of Tomorrow program was picked up by AMSA’s National Honor Society (NHS), the Girl Scouts, as well as the Boy Scouts, after a conversation with life-long Marlborough resident and history buff Matty Sargent. 

Sargent has been restoring grave markers for years. With his tutelage on what to do – never use bleach on those old porous headstones, use D2 cleaner – the groups of students added elbow grease and worked through the afternoon. 

From there, plans included two more Sunday afternoons of similar work.

COVID-safe community service

Vikram Kaushik, an NHS senior from AMSA, explained that he felt this was a good opportunity to give back to the community. 

“It was a safe way to earn some community service hours during COVID,” he added in comments to the Community Advocate. “Mr. Vital has lots of connections with veterans’ groups, so he suggested this as a way to honor those that have passed.” 

Locating veterans’ graves not always easy

Aside from cleaning the headstones, Sargent provided a map of the cemetery that was made as an Eagle Scout Project by Eric Kanavos of Troop 303 back in 2013. 

Using that, volunteers located several other veterans’ sites, placed markers and laminated information tags.

Reflecting on this and other work, Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School sophomore Derek Oldham commented that since “these veterans fought for us, it is the least we can do to honor them.”

Oldham is also a Boy Scout in Boy Scout Troop 2.

Longing to not be forgotten 

Working with sister Girl Scouts Abbey Montague and Hadley Haas, both from Whitcomb Middle School, home-schooled high school senior Molly Hathaway reflected on her own connection to military service through a number of relatives who are veterans.

“This is a way to pay it forward,” she said. “Maybe someone is cleaning their headstones somewhere and giving them the respect they deserve. The last thing everyone wants is to not be forgotten…these people did a great thing, and they deserve to be remembered.”

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