EAST GREENWICH – An unprecedented seven Boy Scouts from Troop 1 were recognized May 4 with attaining Eagle Rank, scouting’s highest honor, in a warm, heartfelt ceremony at Cole Middle School.
A crowd of about 120 people – family, friends, mentors, fellow Scouts, and state and town dignitaries feted Evan Carpenter, Giulio Cataldo, John Drumm, Alexander Lebovitz, Scott Marcus, Ethan Mattos and Connor Ross in a two-hour Court of Honor event that also celebrated the spirit of human achievement.
It was speculated both publicly and privately that elevating seven Eagles Scouts on one day in one Troop was a record in Rhode Island, matched rarely nationally.
Troop 1 Scoutmaster Thomas Mattos greeted the audience and thanked the “Fine young gentlemen who earned this great rank.” Mattos lauded his charges for achieving a “solid sense of leadership, citizenship and responsibility,” and for being “the best a boy can be.”
U.S. Congressman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said he was honored to pay his respects to the seven new Eagles of Troop 1. “Your achievement is not measured in merit badges,” said Reed. “It is measured in character, leadership and commitment to others.”
Reed drew laughter when he added, “I’m already looking up to you (pause), obviously,” a reference to his short physical stature. “Congratulations and well done,” he said to the teens who increase the total of Troop 1 Eagle Scouts to 103 since the first one was recognized in 1958.
State Representative James Langevin (D-2nd U.S. District) told the young men he, like Reed, was a “big admirer of Scouting.” Langevin said the fact that not one, but seven, Eagles were promoted, spoke to their “great character,” the setting of “high goals,” and “overcoming obstacles along the way.”
“Never be afraid to set these high standards and achieve your goals. Our community, state and country are only as strong as those who get involved,” he said. “We are all so proud of you.”
Former Eagle Scout Ron Marshall then read “One Hundred Scouts,” about the overall positive impact of American Scouting. Half of 100 Scouts will serve in the military, he said, and at least one will save another person’s life, and, perhaps, his own; 17 will become adult Scout leaders; one in four will become community leaders.
Former Troop 1 Eagles Ted Hughes and Thomas DeCesare then informed the audience that Eagle Scouts had to earn at least 21 merit badges, complete a difficult service project comprising at least 100 hours of service and to appear before a Board of Review to meet a set of stringent standards.
The pair told the audience that Carpenter had earned 35 Merit Badges and that his service project had been to organize a trail, clearing brush and litter, and also building a bench along the river, at the Bleachery Pond for the East Greenwich Land Trust.
Cataldo earned 38 Merit Badges and while noticing too many cigarette butts along too many roads and highways, had created the Keep Your Butt Off My Sidewalk campaign for his Eagle project, cleaning up waste on public streets. Incredibly, Cataldo earned Eagle in less than three years after becoming a Scout, 3 days shy of his 14th birthday. Before he turns 18, he plans to earn all 121 Merit Badges.
Drumm had earned 21 Merit Badges and had led three Troops to clear a one-mile stretch of trail and install an erosion barrier along the Queen’s River, while building up beaches in and around the newly-established Queen’s River Preserve Nature Conservancy in Exeter.
Lebovitz earned 29 Merit Badges and, for his project, had worked with the Seabees Museum in Davisville to coordinate a restoration project of paths that traversed the museum grounds.
Marcus earned 24 Merit Badges and worked with Veterans in Pawtucket, recording their military experiences in interviews and submitting the varied documentation of their service life to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Mattos earned 27 Merit Badges and, for his project, led his Troop to clean and garden around the Ronald McDonald Recovery House for Children in Providence.
Ross earned 34 Merit Badges and he organized and led a group of volunteers to build a handicapped accessible raised planter for St. Elizabeth Home in East Greenwich.
In a touching award presentation, the new Eagles brought their parents on stage. While fathers placed the new Eagle neckerchief around their sons’ necks, moms pinned the new Eagle badge on their hearts. Likewise, the Scouts pinned badges on their parents’ lapels.
The new Eagles – and 15 previous Troop 1 Eagle Scouts standing in front of the Cole stage – repeated their Scout pledges and oaths and rededicated themselves to “God, country and their fellow man.”
Red, white and blue candles – representing our flag’s colors – were lit. The candles also represented the three main parts of the Scout’s Honor Code.
The teens then kneeled, center stage, as Troop Leader Thomas Mattos dubbed them as Eagles with a long sword placed on each shoulder.
Congratulatory letters were placed on a reception table from the Rhode Island Statehouse and the White House, from President and Michelle Obama, to Robert and Jonathan Kraft, owners of the New England Patriots.
East Greenwich Town Councilman Brad Bishop told the group, “I have but one word to say to you, and just one word is not easy for a politician,” to laughter. “And that word is ‘awesome.’”
The Scouts were handed achievement citations from various state offices by R.I. State Rep. Antonio Giarusso (R-District 30) and State Senator Leonidas Raptakis (D-District 33), along with Bishop.
“This is unprecedented,” Giarusso said of seven Eagle Scouts being honored at once. “It speaks volumes to your commitment.”
“Do not stop here,” Raptakis told the group. “Make this the foundation for future achievements.”
The new Eagle Scouts were then given seven U.S. flags which had flown over the U.S. Capitol.
The parents, mentors, friends and fellow Scouts – who had all been lauded and thanked by speakers and by each Scout in heartfelt speeches of their Troop memories – then served the 120 guests in a spirited reception.