CEDAR FORT – Just in time for Memorial Day, more than 70 shiny white crosses dot the Cedar Fort Cemetery, thanks to the efforts of several local youth groups.
In two separate service projects, the 51 young people and their leaders sanded and painted the crosses, added flags and flowers and placed them on veterans’ graves and around the Cedar Fort veterans memorial monument. But the origin of the crosses remains a mystery.
“We don’t know who originally made the crosses. Wouldn’t it be cool to find out?” said Larry Mohler of Cedar Fort, whose son, Jordan Mohler, organized the restoration of the crosses for his Boy Scouts of America Eagle Scout project.
Jordan said he chose to organize the sanding and painting of the crosses as his project when his first idea fell through. Originally he approached the Cedar Fort Town Council with his plan to improve the concession stand at the rodeo arena.
Neither the town nor the scout’s fund-raising efforts generated enough money for that project, so Mayor Howard Anderson suggested sanding and painting the crosses as an alternative.
Jordan said Cedar Fort Volunteer Fire Department firefighters found the crosses in the attic of the former fire station last fall when they cleaned out the old Quonset hut so it could be used for training exercises.
No one knew where the crosses had come from or why they were stored there. The 16-inch-tall metal crosses were badly rusted but well-constructed, with a tube on the back for a flag or flower.
They were moved to the Cedar Fort Community Center, where they sat for several months until Jordan volunteered to organize the restoration project.
“Maybe someone made the crosses for an Eagle project a long time ago. They look pretty old. We just don’t know,” Larry Mohler said.
Jordan organized scouts from the Cedar Fort troop of Boy Scouts of America and young men and young women from the Cedar Fort Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for a combined service night to sand and paint the crosses.
Staged in an assembly line, 38 people donated 129 man-hours to restore the rusted crosses.
“We had such a great turnout. It was neat to see all the people helping,” said Julie Mohler, Jordan’s mother. “I wish every Eagle project could be like this.”
Jordan said the original plan had been to use sandpaper and wire brushes to clean the crosses, but that would have taken much longer than one night.
Town councilman Chris Murphy, who manages the cemetery, brought grinding wheels to speed up the process. With rust cleaned off and surfaces smoothed, volunteers painted the crosses with rust-resistant, glossy white enamel paint provided by the town.
The crosses have a hole in the bottom, which made it easy to hang them upside down to dry. With money from the cemetery fund, the town also provided flags from Colonial Flag for the backs of the crosses.
“I’m glad we could do something to honor the veterans,” Jordan said. “I’m thankful for their service and what they’ve done for our freedom.”
Thirteen young women from the LDS 11th Ward of the Eagle Mountain Utah West Stake then got involved in the project by making flower arrangements and placing the crosses on veterans’ graves in the Cedar Fort Cemetery on May 17.
Kim Ballard, the ward’s young women’s president, said the group needed to prepare for its pioneer trek coming up in August, and wanted to do a service project as well, so they combined the two and walked seven miles from the Sunrise neighborhood in Eagle Mountain to the Cedar Fort Cemetery.
Then they put the crosses on the veterans’ graves.
“This was a wonderful opportunity for us to give back to the community and honor those who have fought for our freedom and the liberties that we have,” Ballard said.
Ward Bishop Jason Marshall helped identify the graves, and the 13 young women and four leaders placed the 76 crosses, flags and flower arrangements on the graves and around the veterans’ memorial monument.
“I loved helping put flags on the graves for people who served our country and fought,” said Madi Kauffman, 12, of Eagle Mountain. “I will never forget how awesome this experience was.”
According to Ballard, the girls and leaders left home at 8:30 a.m. and arrived at the cemetery approximately two-and-a-half hours later. Already tired and dusty from their hike along back roads, they searched the cemetery to find each veteran’s grave.
They even found four graves of veterans not listed on the master plot map provided by Cedar Fort Cemetery volunteers Linda Norris and Glenn Ashley.
“It was amazing to be able to go and see the graves and just how much people care about each other,” said Bella Brower, 12, of Eagle Mountain.
Ballard said that the girls were amazed to find pioneer graves, veterans from wars in the 1800s and to see the history on the headstones. One girl even found a live blow snake in the old sagebrush-rimmed cemetery.
“During the service project I learned there’s a lot of history in our valley,” said Ashleigh Marshall, 16, of Eagle Mountain. “Not only pioneer history but also a lot of military history.”
Hammering the metal crosses into Cedar Fort’s rocky soil sometimes took several tries, but the young women succeeded in placing 36 crosses around the veterans’ memorial and 40 crosses on veterans’ graves.
Anyone with information on the origin of the crosses can comment on the Town of Cedar Fort website, www.townofcedarfort.com.
Author: Charlynn Anderson | Correspondent, Daily Herald
See Charlynn Anderson, “Cedar Valley youth place white mystery crosses for veterans in Cedar Fort Cemetery,” (May 26, 2104). Daily Herald.