Scouts plant living tribute to Sept. 11 victims

NEIGHBORS

November 22, 2001|By Joni Guhne | Joni Guhne,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

LIKE SO MANY people, Severna Park High School senior Sheryl McGlory wanted to do something to honor the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But Sheryl, a member of senior Girl Scout Troop 1472, didn't know what she and her friends could do.

Then, she said, she realized it: "If we can't think of anything else, we should at least plant a tree."

From that seed of an idea, Sheryl's suggestion has blossomed, with the help of nearly 800 fellow Girl Scouts from Greater Severna Park, into a project covering nearly 50 square feet near the main entrance to Kinder Farm Park.

It's called the Hope Memorial Garden.

After weeks of planning, digging and planting, much of it during the girls' Thanksgiving vacations this week, the garden is almost complete with not just one tree, but 86 trees, plants and bushes - one for every country that lost a citizen Sept. 11.

The garden will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Dec. 9. The ceremony will begin with a parade of colors, the Scouts carrying flags they have made for each of the countries represented in the garden. The rain date is Dec. 16.

Because the Scouts have kept up with evolving information on which countries have lost citizens in the attack, the number of plants and the countries represented in the garden have changed almost daily since the project began. Senior troop leader Claudette McDonald has found the most accurate information, updated every day, at the U.S. State Department's Web site.

At last count, the missing are from countries as diverse as Antiqua Barbuda and Zimbabwe. The United Kingdom, India, Colombia, Pakistan, Switzerland, Israel and Germany each lost more than 100 citizens; the United States lost about 4,000.

"When the garden idea came up, we had just finished volunteering at the fall festival at Kinder Farm Park," said McDonald, a resident of Chartwell, "I immediately thought of it as the ideal place."

Park rangers agreed, and in less than 24 hours, McDonald said, they had selected the spot. The rangers even installed a water spigot at the site. The garden is at a prominent location in the park, near the main entrance on Jumpers Hole Road, she said.

"The more we developed the plan, the more things fell into place," McDonald said. "Four days after Sheryl made her suggestion, a plan was in action. A project this large usually takes up to three months, but the entire garden project was finalized in three weeks," she said.

There was good reason to hurry; the season for planting was ending, and word about the project had to reach all 75 registered girl scout troops in Community 39. The troops included kindergarten-age Daisies, elementary school Brownies and juniors, middle school cadets and high school seniors. A six-page packet was prepared with the garden layout, permission and order forms, and a detailed description and flag of each troop's assigned country.

The help of horticulturist Jacquelyn McGrail, president of the Chartwell Garden Club, was enlisted, and she prepared a plan designating the type and location of each plant. The Scouts made markers for every country and its plant.

The plant representing America, a sourwood tree, which will grow to be 25 feet high and bear clusters of white bell-shaped flowers, stands in the middle of the garden. McGrail's plan is for an all-native garden with plants such as Beautyberry with its tiny purple berry, Summersweet and the Black Chokeberry. The selection will provide year-round color through flowers, berries and colored branches.

The plants were purchased through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources' "Tree-mendous Maryland" program, which helps citizens buy high quality native trees and shrubs at reasonable prices for public land planting. Each troop purchased its plant from Southern States in Cockeysville, using money earned in fund-raisers.

The experience, McDonald said, "was a lesson for the girls who are learning that you can't plant on top of rocks, that roots need room. They also have a new found appreciation for the farmers who once owned that land."

Thinking Day is an annual Girl Scout event every February when troops display their knowledge of a foreign country. This year, McDonald said, it looks like the troops will already have a country to study.

To help the Girl Scouts purchase plaques for the garden, send contributions to: GS Community 39/Memorial Garden, c/o C. McDonald, 376 Sheffield Road, Severna Park, Md. 21146.

Other Girl Scout troops have been inspired by a desire to remember the victims of the terrorist attacks.

Cadet Girl Scout Troop 1520 is selling luminaries that some Severna Park residents will display the night of Dec. 16 in memory of the attack victims. The residents will light neighborhood sidewalks and driveways with the twinkling luminaries as part of what is being called the Night of Hope.

It's not easy to undertake a project so large.

"Four tons of sand are being delivered to my driveway," said Troop 1520 leader Lenore Mirski, who lives in Chartwell.

"The idea is that the troop members will be bagging the sand and candles," she adds, with the natural optimism required of any Scout leader.

Seven of her Scouts are in seventh grade at Severna Park Middle School. One is in sixth grade.

Originally limited to one neighborhood, the Night of Hope has been extended to include the neighborhoods of all the Scouts in the troop: Chartwell, Kilmarnok, Lakeland, Crain West, Tam Glade and Candlewood.

A similar project is sponsored by Cadet Troop 2348 in Shipley's Choice.

They will even deliver your order to your home.

Luminaria kits containing 10 luminaries sell for $6, or three for $15. Kits can be ordered by calling 410-421-5215 or sending a check to Lenore Mirski, 453 Highfield Court, Severna Park 21146.

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