FORT ANN — Olivia Herring and Shaye Meschino are among the town’s younger citizens, but they are protecting its history.
Herring, 13, and Mechino, 12, headed a project by Girl Scout Troop 3267 to buy and erect signs at seven of the town’s historical cemeteries.
The project was for their Silver Award, the step before Girl Scouting’s highest award, the Gold Award.
At Friday’s dedication ceremony, George Sherwood, the historian of the town’s American Legion, said the girls’ work is vital.
“There’s a problem if you don’t have enough kids interested in history,” he said. “What they have done here is important.”
The ceremony was held at Welch Hollow Cemetery on Route 16, which has about 450 graves, including several that go back to the Revolutionary War.
The other cemeteries that received signs were Sly Pond, Brown, West Fort Ann, Haskins, Needhamville and Ottis.
“That was the first thing we needed to do, figure out which cemeteries to choose, because there are so many in town. We had to talk to the American Legion about which cemeteries had a lot of veterans,” said Eileen Herring, who along with Amber Mahoney runs the troop. Her husband, John, is the local scoutmaster, and her son, Jack, Olivia’s twin, is a Boy Scout.
“We got a lot of help on this,” she said. “The Town Council supported us, the Boy Scouts helped, and West Signs really worked with us on the signs.”
But the real legwork was done by the two girls, she said.
“They did a lot of walking and a lot of looking,” Eileen Herring said.
They also worked with the troop to raise the money for the signs.
The dedication ceremony included Town Supervisor Richard Moore, Arlene Green from the Fort Ann Historical Society, Christine Milligan from the American Legion and the Rev. Sharon Weber of the West Fort Ann United Methodist Church.
It was Milligan, who is also the district American Legion commander and a major supporter of historical preservation in town, who was behind the project.
“Christine Milligan personally asked us to do the project,” Olivia Herring said.
Mahoney said she learned a good deal during the project.
“We learned a lot about the veterans and the people who are buried in the cemeteries,” she said, noting that she learned two of her relatives are buried in Welch Hollow.
The way Eileen Herring sees it, the work is not done.
“A lot of these cemeteries, right now, they look good, but if you go in there, there are stones leaning over and they need to be cleaned up,” she said.
Milligan was impressed with what Herring and Meschino accomplished.
“I am very grateful we have gotten to this point,” she said. “They did a wonderful job, and I am proud of them.”
Moore agreed on the importance of what the pair accomplished.
“Now when people drive by, they will not only know it’s a cemetery, but they will know which cemetery it is,” he said.