The path that led Vikram Ravi to his Eagle Project was very simple, he knew he wanted to honor veterans in some way and be unique, and he knew he didn’t want to physically build something. With these two criteria in mind, he reached out to the Local Veterans Cemetery (The Lafayette Cemetery) to see where he could help out. After a tour, the Lafayette Cemetery’s Director told him that the Cemetery had two problems: first, it was very hard for visitors to find graves of veterans, and that many veterans didn’t have proper grave markers to indicate that that person had fought in a war. Those that actually had a marker usually only had a small and unrecognizable copper stick due to the cemetery not being able to fund anything more.
For the first part of the project, he decided to use a tool called MapMe to make an interactive map where users could easily find exactly where the graves of veterans were located. To make the directions precise, Day 1 of his Eagle Project was spent carefully finding all of more than 200 graves at the cemetery and noting down their longitude and latitude. This was an exceptionally grueling process as a lot of these graves were in obscure spots and weren’t properly marked so finding them was a challenge.
Once the scouts were able to complete this process, we moved on to Day 2 of the Project which was to input all this data into the MapMe tool in order to actually make the website. They added the: Name, Birth/Death/Burial Date, Branch, and Wars Fought for each veteran. The tool also allowed us to mark each grave down to the inch- letting users accurately find their loved ones with just a quick search. Due to the sheer amount of numbers to input, this was rigorous that took over 6 hours to complete. The map itself has been used by Wreaths Across America members to easily locate veterans and place wreaths on their graves.
For Day 3 of his Eagle Project, they had to order grave markers and flags for each of the veterans and place them beside their burial locations. The goal of these markers was to honor the sacrifices these heroes made for their country by showing that a specific grave belonged to a veteran. Since the cost was coming out to around $4000, he had to crowdfund the money. He decided to use Gofundme as a means to collect the cash, and after over 2 months of complications in setting up the site, he was finally able to start fundraising. He reached out to his friends, family, troop, city officials, and social media sites like Nextdoor in order to raise funds, and thanks to great help from the community, they were able to successfully reach our $4000 goal in just under a week. Once he had the cash on hand, we ordered the grave markers and flags and shipped them to the cemetery directly to prepare for Day 3. On this day, the scouts placed the grave markers at each grave belonging to a veteran and put an American Flag on the back. Since our map was recently completed, the Scouts were able to quickly find the burial sites easier and more quicker than on Day 1. When they were finished, it was truly wonderful to see the entire cemetery flooded with American flags and Markers, as they were able to honor many who had not received that respect in their lifetime. Vikram is extremely grateful for his troop and community coming together and supporting him on this project, and he hopes this was able to produce a fitting product. The eagle project was completed in time for Veteran’s Day and it was an honor to see all the happy families come to thank Vikram Ravi for having executed this project.
The Wreaths Across America event was held on December 18th at the Lafayette Cemetery and Vikram Ravi was honored by the Cemetary Director, the Mayor of Lafayette, and the Veteran’s families.