Boy Scouts need help funding restoration of World War I memorial site

Lisa Powell, Dayton Daily News, Ohio
·2 min read

Mar. 5—A Kettering Boy Scout troop is raising funds to clean up a living memorial to the local lives lost during World War I.

On Memorial Day in 1921 a grove of 180 oak trees — each representing a local citizen who died during the war — was planted within Dayton's Community Golf Course in Kettering.

A century later, the oak remembrances at Victory Oak Knoll, have been overtaken by invasive honeysuckle.

Boy Scout Troop 193 of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church has been caring for the memorial grounds for more than a decade.

Each Veterans Day and Memorial Day, members of the Boy Scout troop clean up the area surrounding a large boulder in front of the grove. A plaque on the boulder is inscribed with the names of the Montgomery County veterans who served in the war.

A brick walkway leading to the boulder and an information board are among the Eagle Scout service projects that have enhanced the area, located near the 18th fairway of the course.

The scout troop would like to remove the honeysuckle suffocating the trees on a hillside beyond the boulder before the Memorial Day centennial for the site.

"You want to see the trees," Jonathan Thomas, an assistant scoutmaster with the troop said. "Look at all those names — all those people went to war."

The Boy Scouts will begin clearing this weekend with help from Mark Webber's Landscaping Co., but the task will require more than muscle and hand tools. Heavy machinery rental will be needed for the job, which will take months to complete.

The troop has received donations from Kettering American Legion and VFW posts but has also set up a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $5,000. So far, as of Friday morning, March 5, $600 has been raised.

When the honeysuckle is removed and the condition of the grove can be assessed, Thomas said fallen trees will be replaced.

In a photograph of the site taken in the 1950s, when it was possible to walk among the tall oaks, Thomas said, "You can actually see daylight up the hill between the trees."

The Boy Scouts hope their efforts will return the grove to that condition, and visitors will be able to wander up the hill among the trees again and "make it a living forest," Thomas said.