Military service especially strikes a chord for four Scouts from Kendall, N.Y. Ryan Barrett, Noah Rath, Jayden Pieniaszek and Brian Shaw all have family members who served or who are currently serving in the U.S. armed forces.
So, it seemed natural when the four were thinking of Eagle Scout project ideas, they all settled on a similar idea of a memorial to honor their community’s veterans.
The boys, all in Troop 94, also wanted to enhance the town’s park, which only had a gazebo at it. So, they began their plans of building a memorial — a grand memorial, which would include a 39-foot-long brick wall, 4 feet tall, 3.5 feet wide, decorated with black granite plaques depicting major American conflicts and with three flag poles towering above, each at least 30 feet tall, displaying the American, state, county and National League of Families POW/MIA flags.
Like any Eagle Scout project, it wasn’t going to be easy. This one would cost about $80,000 for materials and labor. Plus, the Scouts had to get approvals from the town council and the school board.
In all, they made 40 different presentations, gaining approvals and securing donations. To raise money, they also sold engraved brick pavers to line the sidewalk leading to the memorial. So far, they’ve sold more than 150 pavers.
After they got the green light from the town and school board, Ryan’s main responsibility was to prepare the site by working with a surveyor and clearing the area. He was also in charge of pouring the base for the wall and sidewalk, placing one of the flagpoles, moving a memorial stone from the town hall to the park and building a cast-iron bench.
Jayden built the brick wall and installed another flag pole. Noah poured the concrete sidewalk, installed the final flagpole, set up five concrete medallions representing military branches on the wall and placed lighting to illuminate the flags. Brian put up the granite plaques and did landscaping around the memorial, including 14 trees.
It took more than a year from the project’s start to finish, in part because the ground froze in the winter during the site preparation phase and the springtime brought many storms while the Scouts were building the wall.
“Mother Nature didn’t want to cooperate with us,” Ryan says.
But, the community got behind the boys to help finish the project. For example, the Lions Club set up a tent so they could work in the rain, and a local Mason advised the Scouts during the wall’s construction. More than 3,000 collective work hours were put into the project.
“It was crazy seeing people support us,” Brian says.
A celebration for Kendall
The yearlong endeavor culminated in a dedication that drew more than 500 people, including Scouts, state and local politicians and veterans. The ribbon-cutting ceremony featured speeches, a flag ceremony and the community band performing.
“It means a lot to all of us,” Jayden says. “It was the best feeling ever. It was nice to do something for the community.”
The Scouts all share the same sentiment — that their work will stand for a long time, honoring the sacrifices those in their community have made and will continue to make. About 200 veterans are buried in the town’s cemeteries.
“It’ll be here until we’re old and we can bring our kids here and show them,” Noah says.
The Scouts are still accepting donations to install more brick pavers at the site. If you’re interested, they have an order form on a Facebook page.
If your Scouts have a similar idea for a big Eagle Scout project, make sure each project meets the rank requirements, demanding that each Scout plan, develop and give leadership for their own project.