Mark Edward Chmielewski, a junior at East Lyme High School in Salem, Conn., has been named The American Legion Eagle Scout of the Year for 2013. Announcement of Chmielewski's achievement was made during the National Americanism Commission's report to the National Executive Committee at Spring Meetings in Indianapolis, May 8. As a recipient of the prestigious award, Chmielewski will receive a $10,000 college scholarship.
Chmielewski, the junior vice commander of Sons of The American Legion Squadron 128, was recognized for his practical citizenship at school, scouting, and his passion and commitment to community service. His Eagle Scout project was the restoration of a 100-year-old historic dam and creation of an adjacent public park. As a member of the Salem Historical Society, Chmielewski became interested in the historic Dolbeare Dam site. Working with the Salem First Selectman and the Historical Society, he planned, developed, managed and led more than 50 community volunteers in removing brush and debris and dead and rotted wood. The volunteers removed down dead and diseased trees and cut them up as firewood to donate to the Lions Club for distribution to needy families in town. As a direct result of Chmielewski's project, area residents are now able to walk to the pond and dam to observe nature, fish, hike, picnic and partake in general recreational activities.
"As an Eagle Scout, and as member of the Sons of The American Legion, I believe in service to my community, service to God, patriotism, duty to my country and honoring the service and sacrafice of our military members and our Legionnaires," he said.
Chmielewski also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity Re-Store and Connecticut Veterans Home, and he received the Lions Young Leaders in Service International Gold Award for more than 100 hours of community service in a year from 2009 to 2012.
"Service to my community, to my country and to our military is part of who I am," Chmielewski said. "I come from a family that has gravitated to public and military service. We are proud to have more than 200 years of combined membership in the American Legion, SAL and the Auxiliary."
The American Legion also awarded a $2,500 scholarship to three runners-up: Chandler Burke of Dallas, Texas; Jonathan Chapman of Germantown, Tenn.; and Travis Thornburgh of New Virginia, Iowa.