Like all of us, Todd Skiles was overcome with grief when he heard about the school shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
But when news broke that two of the young victims were Tiger Cubs, Skiles and the Sea Scouts of Ship 100 in Gainesville, Va., wanted to find a way to honor and remember 7-year-old Chase Kowalski and 6-year-old Benjamin Wheeler.
That’s why the National Capital Area Council next week will christen its newest 22-foot sailboat the Benjamin Chase.
You see, Skiles wasn’t content letting the name of the perpetrator be all people remember from this tragedy.
“Our hope was to remember the victims for a change — rather than the shooter,” he told me. “And to make sure our Cubbies are not forgotten. The image of the two empty Tiger Cub hats … just broke our hearts. Like so many others, I started out as a Tiger leader. And it remains my favorite year of Scouting.”
The parents of Benjamin and Chase are driving down to attend the christening ceremony on Aug. 17 at Leesylvania State Park, south of Washington D.C. Also planning to be there are Scouts from Troop 370 out of Newtown, Conn., and a Connecticut Yankee Council district executive.
The ceremony will be a traditional christening — substituting Perrier water for champagne, of course. The ship will include include a “Rose Ceremony” where the petals of 26 roses, one for each victim, will be released into the Potomac River.
The christening plaque, seen below, will be installed in the cockpit of the boat, which will sail to the Jefferson Memorial or south to Mount Vernon, depending on the tide.
LEARN MORE: Sea Scout Ship 100 official site