Eric's Eagle

This article provided by the Mountain Democrat Newspaper of Placerville, CA
July 5, 2006- Eagle Scout raises the flag and honors his friendEagle Scout Eric Hewitt raises an American Flag at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery
By Rosemary Smith, Democrat staff writer

Pleasant Valley Cemetery sits atop a hill where majestic oak trees lend a sense of drama and permanence as well as of serenity. Forested hills surround the site adding beauty where beauty already is. Breezes play through grasses, trees and flowers as well as in and out among the tombstones of various styles and shapes and age.

The cemetery dates back to the 1800s and is classified as a pioneer cemetery. Many of the earliest graves are unmarked, for the wood disintegrated into earth long ago. Multi-generations in the same family are often buried here, and while the cemetery is not devoted exclusively as a burial site for veterans, a goodly number of military personnel have chosen it as their final resting place.

It seems strange that any cemetery would lack a flag pole, especially one often chosen by veterans, but such has been the case for a hundred years and more.

When Eric Hewitt, 17, of Pleasant Valley Troop 460 was searching for a project to become an Eagle Scout, his scout master suggested installing a flagpole at Pleasant Valley Cemetery, so Hewitt took the project on and in the process decided to honor the passing of friend and fellow scout Derrick Weed.

“The cemetery's still in use. Another scout was going to do the project, but he moved out of the area. The project took about 100 hours and $500. And there's the other aspect - wanting to honor our friend,” said Hewitt.

Sitting atop the highest point of the cemetery, the area for the flag pole is simple yet ambitious. A nine foot square made up of red paving stones is fronted by a black bench and backed by a white picket fence. “There's 80 stone pavers; what would have been the 81st is where the flagpole stands,” Hewitt explained.

“The cemetery committee donated the bench. Home Depot donated the paving stones. I thought of putting in the flagpole with a cover so the flag could always be up, but the cemetery committee wanted the flag just for special occasions. I also thought of a flagpole with a rope to put up the flag, but then I went with a telescoping pole,” Hewitt explained. The project took two weekends of hard work by Hewitt and other scouts and scoutmasters.

In front of the flag pole in the center of the square there is a somber but lovely plaque with an inscription in the center and a gold fleur de lys on either side. The plaque reads, “In Memory of Derrick Weed Our Friend and Fellow Scout Troop 460.”

“The Pool Place donated the plaque. They did a really good job. They donated it because that's where Derrick died - in front of The Pool Place on Missouri Flat Road. That was really nice of them,” Hewitt said. Derrick Weed was crossing Missouri Flat Road this past January when he was struck by a car.

“Two weeks after the project was complete, on April 17, we had a ceremony for the whole troop, the cemetery committee, Derrick's mother and father. As the flag was lowered, two scouts from the Troop played Taps. We put the flag in a case and presented it to Mr. and Mrs. Weed,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt graduated from Union Mine High School in El Dorado this past winter and has been attending Folsom Lake College El Dorado Center in Placerville since then.

Hewitt said that attaining the Eagle will be the close of his career in scouting. “I'm really into jet ski racing now,” he said.

Scouts of Troop 460 help build a memorial flag pole at the Pleasant Valley Cemetery

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