Carl Bergsten may not have family members in the armed forces but he has a keen sense of patriotism and duty-to-country. When the time came to begin work on his Eagle Scout project, the 17-year-old knew he wanted to do something that would support and honor veterans.
"I learned a lot about WWI and WWII and I really gained a newfound respect for our troops and what they do for our country," Carl said. "I think doing this project was giving back a little bit."
Over the Labor Day weekend, Carl and 16 members of Boy Scout Troop 36 met at the All Wars Memorial in Danville's Oak Hill Park to catalog the names of the approximately 800 veterans who are listed on the 23 paver stones that line the memorial's pathway. Carl plans to create a database on the memorial website that would list each veteran's biography and photograph.
"When completed each family will easily find the pavers from the All War Memorial website and eventually this website will have photographs and biographies of each recipient," wrote Councilman and All Wars Memorial Board Member Robert Storer. "There are a number of purple heart and medal of honor recipients as well as many decorated individuals and patriots."
Carl and his father, James, began designing the database project in March with the idea of bringing blue and gold star families together. Families will also be able to access the database to add information and photos about each veteran and, possibly, connect with relatives their loved ones served with.
"I love very much the fact that people are willing to serve and even give up their lives and fight for this country," Carl wrote in his project description. " I also hope to learn something from this Eagle Project, because I feel I'll be getting a lot of information about all these Veterans and the names in the Memorial will become more than just names carved into stone."
While the database is still being created, Carl said he and his scouts, most of who were in fifth or sixth grade, learned a valuable lesson.
"I think we kind of learned that our troops and our veterans are very deserving of our respect," he said, "especially when I made it very clear that the names need to be correct because smudging up the name is like smudging a piece of history."
With his newfound respect and admiration for members of the armed forces, Carl would like to attend a military academy -- either Annapolis or the Air Force Academy in Colorado -- after graduating high school. His Eagle Scout legacy will be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.
"It's a nice project and the All Wars Memorial board is grateful because this is something they've wanted to do for the last five or six years," Storer said.