An Eagle Scout project honoring fallen heroes from in and around Suffern will be dedicated on Saturday morning. The project, a memorial to local men and women who lost their lives because of World War I, is located in Memorial Park, near the Suffern Swimming Pool on Memorial Drive. It features a boulder with a plaque containing the names and dates of death for the nine Suffern-area residents, along with a flagpole, cherry blossom trees, and flowers planted around the base of the memorial. The public is invited to the dedication, which will take place at 10 AM, and Mayor Ed Markunas, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, and members of American Legion Post 859 will be on hand for the ceremony.
The project was designed by Suffern Boy Scout Michael Simon. Working with the village and members of Post 859, Simon designed and led the construction as he works toward becoming an Eagle, which is the highest rank in Boy Scouts. The memorial is especially relevant to Post 859, as three of the names on the monument – Fromm, Maxwell, and Debaun – are the namesakes for the Post. It was also important for Simon to honor the veterans directly connected to Post 859, as he has volunteered at the Post’s monthly pancake breakfast for about 10 years and has become very close to the members.
Work on the project began in early September, with Simon leading volunteers including his fellow Boy Scouts and adult leaders from Troop 21, other adults from the area, and a team from the CSEA Street Department Unit in Suffern. At various stages, they dug a large hole for the project’s base, framed the hole, filled it with gravel and concrete, set the boulder, attached the plaque, and planted the trees and flowers.
Along with the physical labor at the work site, Simon was able to solve a mystery that had lasted almost 100 years. No one had been able to determine exactly when Florence Campbell died, but thanks to some diligent online research, Simon discovered not only the late nurse’s actual date and location of death, but the fact that Campbell’s family had brought her remains back to the area a few years ago.
Boy Scouts working toward the Eagle rank raise money to pay for their projects. Generous contributions from people and businesses in and around Suffern offset the costs of the memorial, allowing Simon to move forward without having to compromise on his design or the materials used. Assemblywoman Jaffee made the final contribution, a large American flag which will be raised over the monument at the ceremony.
Before a Boy Scout can begin an Eagle project, he must complete years of work and move through ranks including Scout, Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life, while earning a number of Merit Badges along the way, some of which are specific to the Eagle rank. After that, it can take several months or more for a Scout to find an appropriate project and complete paperwork before getting approval, after which he might spend months or longer on the actual labor, while completing the follow-up paperwork and getting it all certified can be still more months; from beginning to end, it’s not uncommon for a Boy Scout to spend a year or more on his Eagle project.