Tag Archives: American Legion

Gold Award Girl Scout: Justine Monsell, Highlands Ranch, “Remembering the Forgotten”

What did you do for your Gold Award project?

I wanted to give back to the veteran community. For my project, I provided emblem veteran grave markers to all of the veterans who were laid to rest in the Elizabeth Cemetery. In the cemetery, there were over 150 veterans. I was able to provide every single one with a plastic marker. For the oldest 24 veterans as well as the KIA.

How did you measure the impact your Gold Award project made on your target audience?

At first, I measured it by how many emblem markers I was able to provide for these veterans. After getting them all, it was about who showed up. I wanted not only for the families to feel like someone cares about what their loved one did, but also for the veterans to feel like there was actually someone there to support them. After my ceremony, I had the opportunity to talk to different veterans. They all talked about where they served and for how long. Some of them ended up thanking me. This baffled me since I should be the ones thanking them for their service to our country. They did something that not everyone could do.

How is your project sustainable? How will your project continue to impact after your involvement?

I have developed a how-to guide to be able to continue my project in any cemetery. This project guide is a step-by-step guide to how I was able to provide emblems to the veterans. The guide explains what I did as well as what they can do. Each community is different. If one of my events doesn’t work, they can always conduct a similar event. As for the Elizabeth Cemetery, the American Legion will take on my project. In the cemetery, each veteran has an emblem, the 24 oldest ones have bronze markers while the rest have plastic. Each year, some of the plastic ones will be replaced with bronze ones.

What is your project’s global and/or national connection?

Veterans have been serving our country since our ancestors claimed independence from England. Everyone knows, is, or has known a veteran. There is an abundance of people who are serving our country. Once they come home, they have a hard time connecting with people and some don’t feel as if they are supported in their community. Our soldiers are fighting overseas, so other people don’t have too. No one forced them to join. They are doing this willingly. My manual was sent out to people in different parts of the states so that they can recreate the project there if they would like too. I want my project to spread as far as it can go. Veterans are a big part of our society, and they deserve to feel like they are recognized even after they passed. The veterans who are still alive should know that there are people out there who do still thank them for what they’ve done. This also helps the families feel like they are not alone. No one wants to feel like they are alone.

What did you learn about yourself?

I learned that this community bettered my view of the world. There are more veterans out there and I want all of them to be remembered. Veterans aren’t always going to tell you who they are. They are humble and it has taught me to be more humble as well. The veterans that I met, want to make other people’s lives better even after they are done serving our country. This project connected deeper than I ever thought it would. At first it was for my grandparents and to pass on their tradition, but after it was for all the veterans out there. I have connected with the veterans and I know I want to continue to stay involved.

How will earning your Gold Award impact you in the future?

My Gold Award helped me gain a perspective on what is actually happening to our veterans as well as how the little things may not make a big change, but someone will notice a small change. The Gold Award can help me in the future to inspire others to make a change no matter how small. The Gold Award has also connected me to the veteran community. I know that if I need support I can look to them for it.

Why do you feel the Gold Award was an important part of your Girl Scout experience?

I have been in Girl Scouts since I was five-years-old. When I first heard about them forming a troop in our school, I got so excited that I told my mom to sign me up that night. The Gold Award was my final goal of Girl Scouts. In previous years, I have seen others get their Gold Awards and make changes and I wanted to do the same. The Gold Award wasn’t just another award, it was a project that made a big difference.

How did earning your Gold Award help you become a G.I.R.L. (go-getter, innovator, risk-taker, leader)? 

After this project, I have become a go-getter. There were multiple times where I was told, that I would never be able to do what I want. When I first started, I did not have a lot of support from some people in my community. After being told in one cemetery that, “[I am] never going to be able to do this anywhere, in any cemetery, ever.” I decided to switch cemeteries. I connected with the Elizabeth Cemetery. Some people also told me that I would not be able to achieve my Gold Award in such a short time period. I put all my effort into it and proved them wrong. My project has spread across the veteran community and in fourth months, I hosted multiple events to provide emblem markers for over 150 veterans. I placed all of those emblem markers as well with the help of a supportive community.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: This blog represents only a small fraction of the hard work, dedication, and requirements that go into earning a Girl Scout Gold Award. It is simply a brief summary, which is meant to inspire Girl Scouts to Go Gold in the future. For more information on earning your Gold Award, please email highestawards@gscolorado.org