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Mercersburg teen puts together Sept. 11 flag display, ceremony for Eagle Scout project

September 08, 2011|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Ethan Mowen is seen in a sea of flags - 2,975 to be exact - at the site of his Eagle Scout project in Mercersburg, Pa.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

MERCERSBURG, Pa. — Although he was only 5 years old when the Sept. 11 terror attacks took place, 15-year-old Ethan Mowen of Mercersburg realizes the damage it has caused for his country.

"No one should forget that day," said Mowen, a member of Boy Scout Troop 7 of Mercersburg and a freshman at James Buchanan High School. "We've been fighting a war for like 10 years now over that. I just think it was an awful time."

In the Boy Scouts of America program, the highest attainable honor is Eagle Scout, which requires a Scout to lead a large-scale community project.

Ethan's project can be seen along Mercersburg's North Main Street in front of the Clarence Armstrong Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6241 in the form of 2,975 small American flags.

After being asked by VFW officials if he'd be interested in helping them commemorate the 10th anniversary of Sept. 11, Ethan decided it would be a great opportunity for him to complete his Eagle Scout project.

With the help of about 25 to 30 representatives of the VFW, community and local fire department, the flag display took about two hours and 30 minutes to complete, Ethan said at the site on Labor Day.

"I planned all this," Ethan said. "We mapped them out so they're all nice and in order, lined up. For the second part of my Eagle Scout project, I'm having a ceremony on Sept. 11."

The ceremony will start at 4 p.m. on the lawn in front of the VFW at 20 Veterans Way, Mercersburg, just off North Main Street.

Ethan's Boy Scout troop will hold a flag ceremony to start the ceremony before one of the Scouts plays taps in memory of the lives lost since 2001. A local minister also will speak.

Ethan's father and Scoutmaster, Lain Mowen of Mercersburg, said he is proud to see his son take on such a project.

"It's something that will benefit the community and hopefully they will come out on Sept. 11," Lain Mowen said. "It's a short ceremony, but it's (a time to) reflect on the past 10 years. As Ethan said, we've fought two wars now and some other engagements … it affects everybody."

Mowen said it's important for people to take some time out of their lives to recognize the efforts of members of the U.S. armed forces and the lives lost overseas in combat.

"Ten years is a long time to be fighting a war," he said. "It all stemmed from that day. It changed our country forever."

Troop 7 has another Scout, Ben Troupe, who also is working on an Eagle Scout project at the nearby Charles Brightbill Environmental Center, on Fort Loudon Road, Mowen said.

 Now with about 25 members, their troop is still young but it is growing, he said.

"I think Boy Scouting is a great program for young men to work on their leadership skills and learn to be productive citizens when they get out of high school in a few years and go on to college," Mowen said. "It gives them a lot of skills that they normally wouldn't get that are hard to come by."

Lynn Keener, a representative of the VFW, said the organization and Mercersburg's American Legion Post are holding an open house Sunday at the VFW from 1 to 5 p.m. as part of the ceremony. The public is welcome. Applications for membership and light refreshments will be available, he said.

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