A gathering place for reflection
LE MARS — His church has always been an important part of Blake Dirksen’s life.
When it came time to do an Eagle Scout project, he looked to All Saints Parish.
“I wanted to do something for the church and cemetery because my family belongs to the church, and I have family members buried at the cemetery,” Dirksen said. “At first I only planned on constructing a meditation area, but Steve DeRocher and I decided that it would be a great idea to incorporate something related to the unborn into the project as there is nothing honoring them in the cemetery.”
On Sunday, Oct. 6, a dedication ceremony was held at Calvary Cemetery, where a monument and bench offer persons a place to meditate, reflect and remember.
About 50 people attended the 3 p.m. ceremony.
DeRocher, sexton for Calvary Cemetery, spoke about the meaning of the monument area.
“This is intended to be a place of healing, for those suffering from the pain of associated with aborted or miscarried children. These children do not have to remain nameless or be forgotten. Our intent is to make this a peaceful spot where moms and dads, and other family members can come and find freedom from mental and emotional pain, that comes from having an unborn child in the family,” DeRocher said.
“A while back Blake approached me about doing this project and after submitting a proposal to our board of directors, he received the go-head to bring it to completion. With the help of his fellow Boy Scouts, and some family members and friends, Blake worked on and oversaw this project, and now you are witnessing the beautiful memorial to the unborn that is the finished product,” he continued.
Dirksen spoke briefly about why he chose the cemetery as his area of focus.
“The church has always been a really big part of my life and I’ve always been involved in it, and I noticed that at the cemetery, there has always been a need for somewhere to go to relax and think and pray,” Dirksen said. “I’m very happy with it.”
The ceremony also included a message by Kathleen Kessenich, of Plymouth County Right for Life, and prayers and a blessing of the monument by the Rev. Matt Solyntges.
The project is located at the southwest corner entrance of the cemetery, and is a 10x12-foot cement pad facing towards the street. Located on this pad is a black aluminum park bench where people can relax for a moment to sit and pray. In the center of the pad is the monument to the unborn. The monument itself is a black granite rough cut stone with a flat-faced front and back. The words inscribed on the front of the monument say “Life … God’s Precious Gift. In Loving Memory Of The Unborn.” Below the words is the Bible verse “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Jeremiah 1:5.
Dirksen is the 16-year-old son of Megan and Brad Dirksen. He is a member of Boy Scout Troop 188, and completed the majority of his Boy Scouts involvement under the leadership of Todd Poulson, who was scoutmaster until recently. The scoutmaster now is Trudy Seng.
“I had been eligible to begin my project for some time before starting construction, but I wanted to make sure my project was something that had meaning to me. Because of that, I didn’t begin planning until about a year ago and construction began on July 15, 2019,” Dirksen said.
He explained planning the project consisted of filling out the proper application paperwork through Boy Scouts, then detailing a project plan, drafting out the design of the entire project, calculating material amounts, and finally ordering materials.
“This step was mainly done by my father and I. Fundraising was all by donation from family and friends or it was out of pocket,” he said.
“Once construction began, we had to dig a hole and prepare the site for the cement pad. After that, cement forms were set along with rebar to prepare for pouring the pad. We poured cement and did everything necessary to ensure the pad turned out nicely. Once that was finished, we constructed and installed the bench, had the monument installed, and re-seeded grass around the project,” he continued.
Five other scouts helped Dirksen with the project: Lucas Hauser, Brady Poulson, Derek Plueger, Tucker Heeren, and Ethan Lee. The adults who assisted him were his parents Brad and Megan Dirksen, Todd Poulson, Janelle Poulson, Trudy Seng, Harold Lee, Dave Rolling, Eric Mitchell, and his grandfather Fritz Dirksen.
“I am beyond thankful for all of the help they provided,” Dirksen said.
Dirksen also explained a little more about the meaning of the monument.
“The project is intended to symbolize a place to rest, reflect, and pray. For my family, we go to the cemetery mostly to visit the graves of family and friends. Having this place to stop as a family will be a nice addition to the time we spend there. The addition of the monument honoring the unborn has a special place in everyone’s hearts,” he said.
A junior at Le Mars Community, Dirksen plans to attend a four-year university for either agribusiness or a medical profession.
Dirksen took a moment to reflect on the project.
“This project means a great deal to me. I am very satisfied with this project. It turned out amazing. I have learned countless things throughout my years of scouting. This project serves as a culmination of all of the skills, virtues, and values I have gained from being part of the Boy Scouts of America. I have always wanted to do something for the community, and this served as a great way to help the community I surround myself with,” he said.