Many of you have probably been involved in Scouting – either as participants years ago, or by supporting it as a Scoutmaster or by sponsoring one of the more than 2,500 Scout troops that Legion posts sponsor each year. You’ve witnessed up close the positive influences Scouting has on young men, the character it builds and the sense of personal obligation to community it fosters.
Each year The American Legion presents an Eagle Scout of the Year Award, along with a $10,000 scholarship, to a deserving young man who completes his Eagle Scout project. Eagle Scout is the highest rank advancement in Scouting and requires – among multiple other achievements – planning, developing and leading a service project for a religious organization, school
When Boy Scout Christopher Petrovski needed to come up with a project, he didn’t have to look any farther than his own neighborhood and Merle Guild Post 208, in Arlington Heights, Ill.
"I live three houses away from the post, so every time I walk to school or go outside I see it," he said. "It’s so close. I looked at it and said, ‘Why not do this?’"
But more than location factored into the decision. Christopher’s father, John, is a member of Post 208’s Sons of The American Legion squadron, while his grandfather, Charles, is a World War II Navy veteran and longtime member there. In fact, Charles and his wife will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in July – at Post 208.
"I thought this was a way I could honor our veterans," Christopher said. "That was another big reason for
Christopher and a group of volunteers spent two Saturdays this spring power-washing, scraping and repainting three sides of Post 208’s exterior, along with cleaning and staining the long wooden fence around the building. As part of the project, Christopher was
responsible for obtaining all the necessary tools, materials and refreshments for the two days, as well as ensuring that the project was completed in a satisfactory and timely manner. Funding for the project came in the form of $100 from his Scout troop and $180 that Christopher had earned last fall.
The results of the project impressed Post 208’s
membership. "I am amazed at how a young man can do such a big project so well from start to finish," Post 208 Commander Ellen Janda said. "He has really enhanced the image of our post building in the community."
After finishing the project, Christopher had to submit a written report and go before a review board before he was awarded the rank of Eagle Scout. That happened June 20. The rank brings a sense of pride to the soon-to-be Marquette University freshman – as did the project.
"There is definitely a sense of accomplishment that goes with it," Christopher said. "When I walk by it, I look at it and say, ‘Yeah, I painted that.’ But I had other volunteers who helped, and I’m thankful for that. It was an important project."
Dad also beams a bit when talking about his son’s project. "I’m very proud of my son Chris to organize and complete such a project to help out the local Legion hall," said John, who doubles as Scout Troop 132’s assistant Scoutmaster. "It’s always great to be helping others, and doing something for the vets and the post was
This is why The American Legion is such a staunch supporter of Scouting. Like all of our youth programs, it molds young men into future leaders. And just as important, it builds that sense of obligation so dear to the hearts of every Legionnaire.
Daniel S. Wheeler is The American Legion's national adjutant.