JASPER COUNTY — One look at Dylan Perry’s merit badge sash with rows and rows of badges gives a good indication that being a Boy Scout has held an important significance in his life.
Because of that significance, Perry had done what only about 8% of Boy Scouts do each year and finished his Eagle Scout project. The project that began two years ago came to fruition as he unveiled it on Saturday, June 5. His project not only honors military personnel and first responders but also someone who has a special place in his heart, his great-grandfather.
“I started my project to honor my great-grandfather Grover Perry, who was a tail gunner in World War II on a B-24 Liberator for the 801st 492nd Carpetbaggers Bomb Group of the United States Army Air Corp.,” Perry said during the ceremony.
Perry’s project is a sculpture of two hands holding what looks like a folded United States flag. It was unveiled at the Jasper County Fairgrounds during a ceremony that honored all military personnel and first responders, past and present.
Perry said the hands are painted white to represent white gloves that are worn during special ceremonies. The base of the structure is concrete with emblems of each military branch and first responders.
Perry’s inspiration came from hands that he saw in Lincoln, Nebraska. The hands there were painted and one held what appeared to be a folded United States flag. Perry changed the idea and wanted a large base for the hands.
“I didn’t think there would be this many people excited about it,” said Perry, who is a junior at Rensselaer Central High School. “You don’t see a lot of people happy about the military because they want to find something wrong with the United States. This is something that I will happily involve myself with.”
Perry said when he spoke with the fair board association, everyone on the board approved the proposed project. As he spoke with the American Legion and VFW members, he saw more excitement being generated.
“I started getting really excited about it a couple of months ago when the hands were put on,” Perry said.
Completing an Eagle Scout project is not an easy task. The Scout must receive approval from the Boy Scout Council and other entities that will be involved such as a city council. In the case of Perry’s memorial, he spoke with the Jasper County Fair Board.
After the Scout receives approval from the various entities, the Scout must then raise funds and support for the project. Many times, a Scout will work for a year or two to complete the project that many times ends with a ceremony or ribbon cutting.
As part of the ceremony for Perry’s project, members from the local American Legion and VFW posts participated with a 21-gun salute and played Taps. The ceremony also included a proper burning of Old Glory led by the Scouts.
Perry said any funding that is leftover from his project will be used for maintaining it. He is hoping that other scouts will add to the project as their future Eagle Scout projects.