By Joan Goodchild, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – In the Boy Scouts of America program, the highest rank one can achieve is that of Eagle Scout. Those who have become Eagle Scouts will say that it is no small feat. Over the course of their scouting career, in order to receive the rank, Scouts are required to earn at least 21 merit badges and lead an extensive service project that often takes months to complete.
Shrewsbury native Christian Alexandrou has been involved with scouting for 11 years and is a member of Troop 114 in Shrewsbury. The Worcester Academy junior believes his experience as a Scout has made him a better person.
“Boy Scouting has had a major positive impact on my life,” Alexandrou said. “Its core values of teaching leadership, and doing a good turn daily, have truly molded me into the person I am today.”
Alexandrou decided his Eagle Scout project would be to create a veterans” memorial garden honoring veterans of all wars who were at one time parishioners of St. Spyridon Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Worcester, where Alexandrou has been an active parishioner his entire life. The memorial, located in front of St. Spyridon Cathedral on Elm and Russell streets, fulfilled another goal of Alexandrou's when envisioning the project.
“Ever since I was a young Scout, I knew that I wanted to undertake a service project to benefit both St. Spyridon and our veterans in a way that could be everlasting,” he said.
With that in mind, Alexandrou approached Peter Leasca, chair of the Veterans Recognition Committee at St. Spyridon and a WWII veteran, for his perspective on the idea of a memorial.
“When I presented this idea to him, he was so pleased to hear that someone would want to create something as meaningful as this,” Alexandrou said. “For the past 30 years, the Veteran's Committee at St. Spyridon has wanted to build a memorial, but has never had the resources to do it. This project fulfilled a longstanding dream of the church community to honor its veterans.”
Starting in January, Alexandrou spent five months preparing and designing the memorial, as well as earning the necessary approvals in order to begin the project. He then spent several months over the summer collecting monetary donations in order to purchase the materials for the construction. Over three weekends, and over 200 hours, the memorial was built. It was completed Oct. 7.
“My goal was to construct a memorial that would be everlasting and timeless, and I achieved that,” Alexandrou said. “Every Veterans Day, St. Spyridon has a special service to honor their veterans who have fallen by reading out their names, along with prayers, followed by a march in Elm Park. By building a memorial in an area where the whole city can see will provide a daily reminder that we should honor and respect our veterans who have or are serving our country.”
Alexandrou is scheduled to be awarded the rank of Eagle Scout in the spring.