On Saturday, Sept. 29 at 1 p.m., a very special event will happen at the Eddington Town Office: The Eddington Veterans Memorial, the culmination of eight months of hard work by an Eagle Scout candidate and incredible community support, will be dedicated.
Joshua Baillargeon, 15, who has been in Scouting since first grade, began planning his Eagle Scout Service Project about a year ago. Initially, he wanted to create a walking trail, but when his attention shifted to a veterans memorial, he knew he’d found a project with deep meaning for him. He did lots of research for his design, and devised a project so grand in scope that his parents estimated two to three years to complete it.
“I wasn’t in any rush at all,” Joshua said. “I wanted it to be right.”
The memorial called for two main pieces, plus a bench. The main piece is a huge concrete base with a raised star. Atop the star will sit the 6-foot-tall memorial atop a 13-foot-wide base; behind it, towering poles will fly the American, Maine, and POW/MIA flags. The second piece is another star, called the Freedom Garden, built of interlocking stones and filled with flowers. These two stars echo the Blue Star and Gold Star Service Banners; a blue star represents a family member serving during wartime or hostilities, while a gold star represents a family member who died during such service.
When Josh presented his ambitious plan to the town council, the council gave him the land to do it and the green light, so long as he really thought he could do it, recalled Joshua’s mother, Marie.
“Josh said, ‘If I can’t finish it, then I’m not going to do it,’” said Marie. “I looked at my husband and said, ‘Let’s start with a spaghetti supper.’”
Thanks to donations from businesses such as Olive Garden and Angelo’s Pizza, 75-plus desserts for sale by community members, and an incredibly generous community, that first event, held Jan. 28, 2012, raised $5,200. Eight months later, with the project complete and about to be dedicated, Joshua has raised $22,500 and solicited many donations of time and materials, including $5,000 from the town.
Rogan’s Memorial of Bangor, owned by Eddington resident Dick Coffin, provided the granite monument, which will be set in place Friday and unveiled Saturday, at cost. The three flagpoles were recycled light poles from the Joshua Chamberlain Bridge — and, at the dedication, Joshua promises a motivational tie-in involving Gen. Chamberlain, the light poles, and the honoring of veterans.
The entire project, valued at $50,000 and including 37 cubic yards of concrete, is the product of 1,450 man hours of labor. All major work, besides the lighting and monument placement, was done by early August. The memorial will be placed on the star on Friday and unveiled during the dedication.
“It’s been phenomenal,” said Marie. “It’s been unbelievable, the community support that we have had.”
And it isn’t over yet. People can purchase bricks at the town office and have the names of their loved ones who served etched onto them, likely to become a brick walkway. Next spring, Joshua will likely be back out there, working on that walkway. With a younger sister in Girl Scouts and a cousin in Florida planning his Eagle Scout project, Joshua is setting the bar very high, but he wants it to be about inspiration, not competition.
“It’s not about who did the bigger project,” he said.
Despite his hard work, he stresses that the project was possible thanks to donations from area businesses and members of the community — food at the spaghetti supper, deep discounts on concrete, donated flagpoles, cash donations from the community, and so much more.
“I could go on and on for the people who donated money,” he said.
Although an Eagle Scout project is about leadership, and Joshua has led the way on this project since its inception, he repeatedly spoke of the importance of everyone who made the memorial possible.
“My parents were a big help; I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them,” Joshua said. “Not only my parents, but the community really came together.”
He’s learned a lot about leadership, and has learned social and life skills along the way — from addressing envelopes to researching online to working with the community, and much more. He has some sound advice of any aspiring Eagle Scouts worried about their own big projects.
“Set your goal and go with it; anything is possible,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun, and your experience will definitely help you later on.”