While vacationing in Iowa over spring break, Downers Grove South student Michael Sklodowski came across a memorial for local veterans down by the Mississippi River.
“I thought it looked really cool and I thought about it for a while and thought it would make a pretty neat Eagle Scout project,” said the 15-year-old who lives in unincorporated DuPage County near Darien.
For his Eagle Scout project, the scout installed a veterans memorial garden at the Darien City Hall with the support of Darien officials and the local Darien VFW Hall.
“In the beginning it was just going to be the memorial and it was going to be right by the VFW or American Legion, but then I thought it might be better to have it by the City Hall,” Sklodowski said. “After looking around where to put it, I thought behind the sign would look nice so when you pull in [to the City Hall] you would see it and could see it from the road.”
Sklodowski, a member of Lisle-based Troop 99, not only installed a garden, which included rose bushes, a variety of flowers, tall grasses and added mulch, but he also painted the Darien City Hall sign and set up a memorial complete with a headstone like monument and two 42-inch statues on either side – one a saluting Marine and the other a saluting Army officer.
Sklodowski said he started getting busy on the project in late summer after a couple months of planning. On Oct. 26, Sklodowski finished the project with help from other members in his troop and his parents.
“We started around 8 a.m. and we were planning on working until 4, but the guys worked really hard and we were done by 1,” he said. “A week or two before we painted the sign to get that out of the way, and that was about a three hour thing with me and one of my friends from the troop and my parents.”
Installing a tribute to veterans was something that hit close to home for Sklodowski as two of his grandparents fought in World War ll, his uncle was in the Navy between the Vietnam and Korean wars, and he has several cousins and other family members who have served in the military.
“I’m considering going in later in my life,” he said. “Right now I would really like to get into the 75th Ranger Battalion, possibly considering the Marine Corps.”