i'm not sure whether to throw up or cry or go shortsheet beds at cub scout camps.
Cub Scout crawls from grave to grave, honoring the dead
Pivoting his body with his right arm and holding a neon-green ruler in his left hand, James Milam, 10, crawled from grave to grave at Nashville National Cemetery yesterday morning, carefully placing an American flag exactly one foot from each gravestone.
The energetic fourth-grader took the task seriously.
''I don't think that's straight at all,'' he said, holding the ruler to a flag and making a minor adjustment. ''There, that's better.''
With that pronouncement, James swung back into his wheelchair, rolled to the cemetery roadway and sped off to another section of gravestones. On the way, he talked about the new wheelchair he's getting next month.
''It has green lights on the front wheels, bigger wheels in the back and black spoke guards,'' he boasted. ''I'll really fly in that one.''
Born with sacral agenesis, a rare defect in which the spine does not fully develop, James has used a wheelchair since he was 2.
The Cub Scout is known for his fervid patriotism. This is the second Memorial Day weekend that James has joined hundreds of Scouts in placing flags on all of the 34,000 gravestones at the cemetery in Madison.
Tomorrow, he will join two U.S. Marines in the annual wreath-laying ceremony at the cemetery.
''I feel like they gave their life for our freedom so we should come out and honor them for that,'' he said of the veterans buried at the cemetery. ''I just want to honor the soldiers and our country.''
Recently placed in a gifted program at Robert F. Woodall Elementary School in White House, James is intensely interested in what's happening in the world, his parents said.
''He very much understands the war we've been in, and he's very patriotic,'' said his mother, Cindi Milam. ''He's just real concerned about it all.''
His favorite songs are those about the recent wars and terrorist attacks, such as Darryl Worley's Have You Forgotten and Alan Jackson's Where Were You.
James is also an avid fan of such all-American pastimes as NASCAR, baseball, four-wheeling and fishing.
''This child is not scared to do nothin','' declared Jan Harrison, assistant den leader for James' Cub Scout patrol, the Screaming Eagles, named for the 101st Airborne Division. ''I nicknamed him the Energizer Bunny because he just keeps going and going.''
Though he dreams of being a pilot, his parents said, he has settled on becoming an air traffic controller instead.
''He knew he couldn't fly a plane, but he said he can help it land,'' said his father, Jim Milam, whose father founded Milam's Optical Service. ''He has absolutely no self-pity. If he can't do something, he figures a way around it.''
The sociable youngster is popular among his classmates and fellow Scouts.
''The boys constantly fight over who's going to be with James,'' den leader Patti Neary said. ''He is all personality.''
After spending several hours placing dozens of flags at gravestones, James admits to being tired, especially his right arm, as his father pushes him back to the car in his wheelchair. Next on the agenda is a car wash to raise money for a youth summer camp sponsored by his church, Halltown General Baptist.
''I could disable him if I smothered him, but I want him to do everything he can do and be independent,'' Cindi Milam said. ''From the night he was born, I felt God had a higher calling for him. We're blessed to have such a happy child.''