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Congressman Andy Harris

Representing the First District of Maryland

Jacob McLaughlin Earns Eagle Scout Award

April 4, 2018
In The News

GRASONVILLE — Boy Scout Troop 765 hosted an Eagle Court of Honor for Jacob McLaughlin, 17, of Queenstown on Saturday afternoon, March 31, at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center. The troop is sponsored by Safe Harbor Presbytarian Church in Stevensville.

Longtime troop Scoutmaster Jim Williams called the court of honor together shortly after 2 p.m., with presentation of colors by scouts of the troop. Williams called upon U.S. Army Colonel (Retired) John Taylor, Jacob’s grandfather, to serve as Master of Ceremonies.

Taylor spoke briefly about Jacob’s personal history. He said Jacob and his brother Issac were both adopted from an orphanage that was located about two hours outside of Moscow, Russia, around 2003 by parents Patrick and Kary McLaughlin. Taylor said it was a very rough time in Russia with many orphans, and many of those orphans who did not survive following their time in orphanges there.

He said, “At age 14, children were kicked out of the orphanages and expected to survive on their own. As many as 90 percent would wind up dead, either by murder or drugs.”

He implied it was amazing that Jacob, then 2, and Issac, 4, would have the opportunity to survive with loving parents bringing them to America.

The formal court of honor began after Taylor’s remarks.

Many of the ideals of Scouting were shared during the ceremony. Quoting Lord Baden Powell, the founder of Scouting, “There is no religious side to the movement (of Scouting); the whole of it is based on religion, that is on the realization and service to God.” The 12 Points of the Scout Law were then recited with Biblical scriptures read to support each one. Those 12 Points (A Scout is …): Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.

Scoutmaster Jim Williams said, “In Scouting, the Eagle stands for strength the character and for knowledge of all phases of Scouting.” The Eagle rank is the highest award a young man can earn in Scouting. It is earned by fewer than 4 percent of all boys who join Boy Scouts of America, and those who attain it truly set themselves apart from their peers in the most positive manner. This is a fact recognized by both the U.S. military and many businesses throughout the U.S. The U.S. military automatically awards a higher pay grade to a young man who has earned his Eagle Award when he completes basic training in any branch of the military.

Congressman Andy Harris, a military war veteran himself, spoke at Jacob’s court of honor, “Whenever I receive applications for employment, I know what it means on their application when it says ‘Eagle Scout.’ I know that the 12 Points of the Scout Law have been learned and made part of this individual’s life.”

All youth must advance through the following ranks to earn their Eagle: Tenderfoot, 2nd Class,1st Class, Star and Life. They must complete all the basic requirements, especially demonstrating different leadership positions within the troop. The biggest test of leadership is to plan and complete a previously approved Eagle Scout Service Project to benefit the community. Here, Jacob truly set himself apart.

He said, “I wanted to do something different, something that would last.”

Jacob decided to created a memorial honoring all those Queen Anne’s County natives who died in combat defending American freedom, from America’s first Revolutionary War, covering every war since, up through the most recent War in Afghanistan. It took Jacob almost four years to complete the project, researching birth certificates and causes of deaths during wars, finding 200 citizens of Queen Anne’s County. He even was able to identify the racial background of the 200. Surprising to many, more than 50 percent of county residents who gave their lives were African-American citizens. Not surprising, the numbers of African-Americans dying were very high during the American Civil War.

The memorial was erected outside VFW Post 7464, in Grasonville in the fall of 2017 with all 200 names enscribed on three huge plaques.

A Scout must also earn at least 21 merit badges, the majority of those are known as “Eagle required.” Jacob earned the following in his trail to Eagle: Aviation, Camping, Citizenship in the Community, in the Nation, and in the World, Communication, Cooking, Crime Prevention, Cycling, Emergency Preparedness, Family Life, Fingerprinting, Fire Safety, First Aid, Leatherwork, Personal Fitness, Personal Management, Radio, Sustainability, Weather, and Woodcarving.

Jacob said, “For me, Cycling merit badge was most challenging. We had to complete a 50-mile trip on a bike. I helped plan a 50-mile ride along the C & O Canal tow-path. Cycling also turned out to be the merit badge that was most fun for me because of the challenges it presented.”

Jacob will graduate from Chesapeake Christian School this coming June. He plans to have a career in law enforcement, becoming a Maryland State Police Cadet.