Eagle Scout Project Honors Fallen Soldiers
GRASONVILLE — Veterans of Foreign Wars, Post 7464 hosted the unveiling of an Eagle Scout Project designed and orchestrated by Troop 765 Life Scout Jacob McLaughlin, 17, of Queenstown on Saturday, Sept. 23.. Boy Scout Troop 765 is sponsored by Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Stevensville.
Jacob achieved his Life rank when he was 13 years old. A young man must organize and lead whatever project he chooses to do, as long as it is previously approved by the local Boy Scout Council. The Scout must write the plan up and present it to the council. If it is approved, he then can move forward in making it happen.
It took Jacob nearly four years to do the main work of his proposed project — to find the names of all Queen Anne’s County residents who served in the armed forces and died in combat in all wars in American history, starting with the American Revolutionary War and going through every major war through today, including the war in Afghanistan.
His work produced exactly 200 names. After confirming all 200, he went about arranging to have the names listed on three large plaques to be mounted outside the VFW in Grasonville. First, there is a plaque representing all the soldiers who died in the Revolutionary War, 17 of those were African Americans, designated with an asterisk next to their names. Jacob said, “The African American soldiers were listed as being members of the USCT (United States Colored Troops). That was also the designation from the military records for all who served in the Civil War. There are 61 soldiers from Queen Anne’s County who were African Americans who died during the Civil War.”
That high number of African American deaths can be attributed to former slave owners of Queen Anne’s County being reimbursed by the federal government to have their former slaves enlist to join the Union army to help fight against the Confederacy the last year of the war. Since Maryland had been a slave state prior to the start of the war, arrangements were made in Maryland for former slave owners to direct their slaves to help out the Union, so the former slave owners did not take a total loss of dollars from slave property. It was one of the few areas Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation did not apply in Maryland. All slaves were not set free for nothing.
Adding the numbers of African Americans who died in combat in World War I, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, another 35 African Americans from Queen Anne’s County are accounted for. The total number of African Americans out of the total 200 is 113.
The dedication ceremony included the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner” and comments from Congressman Andy Harris, who presented Jacob with an American flag that had been flown over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Harris said, “Eagle projects are special to serve the community, however, many Eagle projects don’t last long. This one will last forever.”
Then, led first by Jacob, all 200 names were solemly read aloud. Ten different friends and family members participated in the reading, each reading approximately 20 names. At the conclusion of the reading, “Taps” was played. There were tears in a number of people’s eyes at the ceremony remembering those from Queen Anne’s County who gave their last full measure of devotion to the nation.
County Commissioner Mark Anderson said, “All of the names of those listed on these plaques gave up their tomorrows for us today and for that American flag atop this flag pole. That we could all live in freedom.”
Jacob spoke briefly to the audience about the hardest part of the work, “going to all the different places to confirm the deaths of the many soldiers. I even went as far away as South Carolina!”
Though he has accomplished his Eagle Service Project, Jacob has still not achieved his ultimate goal of becoming an Eagle Scout. He has a few more requirements to finish before he turns 18, and must then complete an Eagle Board of Review (review of all requirements to achieve the rank of Eagle). Upon doing that, then he will be awarded Scouting’s highest honor.