Troop 16 lays wreaths in Portsmouth

Published 10:35 pm Friday, December 20, 2019

By Max Lonzanida


Tucked away in small expanse of the Cedar Grove Cemetery is a small, non-descript headstone. It sits upright amongst a sea of memorials and markers that dot the nearly 6-acre historic cemetery, within sight of the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in downtown Portsmouth.


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The headstone reads simply:

Tom Brittingham

Drummer Boy

War Between the States

Like most of the cemetery’s gravesites, which date back to 1700, they sit unnoticed for the better part of the year.

That is, until last weekend, when Boy Scout Troop 16, from Driver, descended on the historic cemetery with nearly 30 scouts placing wreaths across the graves of veterans as part of Wreaths Across America.

Scout Leader Andrew Falkenstein said simply, “This is one of the things we do that gives back; we’ve been here since 10. We did all the unboxing and set everything up. It kind of helps with Scout spirit, giving back to the community and recognizing veterans.”

The Scouts, along with other groups from near and far, made quick work of laying wreaths. After an opening ceremony and remarks by event organizers, the Scouts feathered out with handfuls of wreaths. At gravesites marked with red flags, each scout paused, carefully laid a wreath, and held a short moment of silence before smartly saluting. It was an action that was repeated throughout the morning, as nearly 700 wreaths were laid in the historic cemetery.

Barbara Early, president of the Cedar Grove Cemetery Foundation, expressed her gratitude for the Scouts, along with the other community groups that arrived on an overcast morning. She noted that this was Troop 16’s fourth year participating in the event, and she looked forward to many more.

By 2 p.m., wreaths laid across the gravesites of veterans dotted the landscape of the historic cemetery, bringing to light the service and sacrifices of many, including Tom Brittingham, the drummer boy who perished during the War Between the States.