American flags that now grace hundreds of gravesites at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery honor previously unidentified Veterans, thanks to the efforts of Eagle Scout candidate Robert Delvecchio of Boy Scout Troop 22 of the Tarrytowns.
With help from the cemetery Superintendent Jim Logan, Robert was able to access the database of 45,000 souls buried in the cemetery and determined who had served in uniform by cross-checking the names against Ancestry.com’s Veterans’ site and the U.S. military archive. He even found two Revolutionary War Veterans, as well as Civil War soldiers.
Along with his Scoutmaster Dave Cusick, and volunteers from Troop 22 and the community, Robert surveyed the entire cemetery, a process that took about 30 hours.
He identified the previously unknown soldiers from a Veterans Administration (VA) footstone or headstone, or a grave marker. In addition to the 50 known Veterans buried at the cemetery, he was able to identify 750 additional Veterans in the span of a couple of months.
“Robert is a dedicated young man who really threw himself into this project,” Cusick said.
On Saturday, Oct. 31, Robert and volunteers from both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were able to lay 800 flags, donated from the Village of Sleepy Hollow, on all the Veterans’ graves. Among those at the ceremony was Chick Galella, a 100-year-old Veteran and lifelong resident of Sleepy Hollow (see story, page 9).
“I am so impressed with Robert’s efforts. Veterans should never be forgotten,” Chick remarked.
Robert continues to participate in Boy Scout meetings and expressed that he will carry the qualities he learned with him in his future endeavors. “Being a scout has taught me a lot,” Robert said. “This project mainly taught me the importance of leadership and responsibility.”
Rebeccah Worth is a freelance writer based in Northern Westchester.