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Masonic lodge getting new crosses, thanks to Eagle Scout project
Martin and parents working ahead of Saturday dedication ceremony
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Zachary Martin, 13, is with Boy Scout Troop 130 of Flowery Branch, and is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout. - photo by Erin O. Smith

Dedication event

What: New crosses for Gainesville Masonic Lodge’s Veterans Memorial Garden

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

When: 621 Lakeshore Drive, across from the Lakeshore Mall

Also: The event is open to the public.

The Gainesville Masonic Lodge is about to replace 15-year-old worn-out crosses it puts out each Memorial Day and Veterans Day, thanks to the efforts of a South Hall County Boy Scout.

As part of efforts to attain Eagle Scout status, Zachary Martin and his parents, Shane and Amiee Martin, will be working feverishly this week to assemble some 200 crosses.

The project holds special significance, as the 13-year-old’s father and grandfather are veterans.

“He knows what veterans are capable of and what we’ve done throughout our span,” Shane Martin said. “One thing we focus on in Troop 130 is we’re built on service — that’s our motto.”

And serving others, Zachary said, “is the right thing to do.”

The lodge has set a ceremony for dedicating the new crosses for 1 p.m. Saturday at the lodge, 621 Lakeshore Drive, off Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway, across from the Lakeshore Mall. The event is open to the public. Area veterans groups, as well as state and federal lawmakers and other government officials, have been invited.

Zachary approached the lodge and “wanted to know if there was anything he could do for the lodge,” said Troy Phillips, Zachary’s uncle and the lodge’s communications director.

“We had other Boy Scouts in the past approach us about redoing the crosses, but they never went through with it.”

The crosses represent Hall County residents who have died in combat since World War I.

It’s a bleak prospect, but Zachary wanted to build extra crosses for any area soldiers who might die in future conflicts, Phillips said.

The hardest part of the project has been gathering the needed materials for the crosses, Zachary said.

But there’s been other intense labor, as his father can attest.

“I spent two full days cutting wood,” Shane Martin said. “Scouting doesn’t allow (Zachary to) operate power tools, so that means a lot of work for dad.”

A stack of wood in his parents’ garage Sunday afternoon meant much work was in store for Zachary before Saturday’s event — two days before his 14th birthday — but there are more hoops to jump through before he gets his Eagle status.

Zachary’s Court of Honor, the event marking his official Eagle status, could take place in January, his parents said.

Still, getting this far also holds other significance for mom and dad: Zachary is a cancer survivor from infancy.

“To see where he has come from to where he is now, it tugs at your heartstrings and makes you proud,” Shane said.

Dedication event

What: New crosses for Gainesville Masonic Lodge’s Veterans Memorial Garden

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

When: 621 Lakeshore Drive, across from the Lakeshore Mall

Also: The event is open to the public.