Scout’s project honors veterans

Published 7:06 pm Thursday, November 19, 2009

One local young man who took on a project that honored those who gave the ultimate sacrifice has, in the process, left those at a local VFW post in awe.

“Calem is a special young man. He is dedicated to his church, his studies and his family,” said Bill Blackmon, special events coordinator and past commander of VFW Post 9382 in North Suffolk. “What he accomplished was not easy.”

As part of his Eagle Scout project, Calem Polston, from Chesapeake, took on the task of researching, designing and constructing a memorial near the VFW post, giving details of recent American wars — from World War I through today’s battles in Iraq and Afghanistan — and documenting the numbers of men and women killed and wounded in each war.

“This was a win-win situation for everyone,” Blackmon said. “We wanted to put together a memorial near our post, and he needed an Eagle Scout project. This worked out well for everyone involved.”

The monument was dedicated Oct. 31 at the post, located on Pughsville Road. The display at the time included 70 wooden crosses and an information board about the number of those killed and wounded in each conflict. The site also includes a flagpole with the American Flag displayed, along with the POW/MIA flag.

Since the dedication, which was well-attended by post members, their families and guests and featured Delegate Chris Jones as the guest speaker, members have expanded the area and added nearly 30 more crosses to the display.

“I think there are right at 100 crosses now at the site,” Blackmon said.

Not only did Polston have to create, design and construct the memorial, as part of the project he also had to raise the funds to pay for the materials.

Blackmon said he has known the Polston family for over 50 years, having been friends with Calem’s grandparents.

“I’ve known Calem for years; since he was a little thing,” Blackmon said. “If I didn’t know how much of a good young man he was, then I would not have joined him in this project.”

Calem, a member of Scout Troop 212, is from Chesapeake.

For Blackmon, a veteran of the Korean War, where he served in the Army, the memorial has become a special place.

“Every time I look at it I am in awe,” Blackmon said. “It’s fantastic.”