Scouts and dignitaries from across the state filled the Elbert County Courthouse lawn in Kiowa for the dedication of two historical monuments Aug. 2.
The dedication ceremony was preceded by a parade of Boy Scouts caring flags from all 50 states and more than two dozen nations. Originating at Kiowa High School, the procession of more than 200 Scouts marched down Comanche Street to the courthouse.
Christopher Kelly of Troop 148 in Aurora, who is working toward his Eagle Scout badge, originally approached the Board of County Commissioners in February 2014, telling them that he proposed the project because he wanted to preserve Colorado history and learn about it himself.
The first monument, a 7-foot high obelisk, honors veterans. The base of the structure is constructed from stones collected from historic forts from Colorado, New Mexico, and Wyoming supporting four panels honoring service men and women of the U.S. military.
The obelisk's first panel presents the Oath of Enlistment taken by all men and women entering military service. The second is dedicated to the men and women in Elbert County who served in the five branches of the United States Military. The third honors those wounded or killed in action, and the fourth panel affirms the freedoms of America for which veterans served.
The second monument is a tribute to the history of Elbert County. Also comprising four panels, the marker relates the story of Elbert County from prehistoric times, recognizing the early settlers, Native Americans, and the Mormon Battalion who all traveled the Trappers' Trail, also known as the Cherokee Trail.
“Making monuments matters little if boys and girls don't grow in character,” Kelly said during his speech in front of the courthouse.
Kelly thanked all the people who helped him with the project, acknowledging the support from his church, fellow scouts, and his mentor, Eagle Scout project coach Lynn Southam who was the genesis of the idea and assisted Chris with the design and wording.
Dignitaries in attendance at the dedication included Colorado state Rep. Timothy Dore, R-Elizabeth; Elbert County Commissioners Robert Rowland, Kurt Schlegel and Larry Ross; and leaders from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Also on hand were Scouts who recently participated in a re-enactment of an 1846 march by Mormon Battalion, also known as the Sick Detachment, during the war with Mexico (1846-47). The Scouts' 15-mile commemoration of the 2,000-mile march was part of the 2014 LDS Scout Encampment of the Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Eagle Scout is the highest rank in the Boy Scouts and is earned by progressing through six ranks, beginning with the rank of Tenderfoot, by earning at least 21 merit badges such as First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, and Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving.
In addition, each Scout must serve in a troop leadership position for six months; develop and lead a service project for a religious organization, school, or community; and take part in a Scoutmaster Conference.
Once all these requirements are met, the Scout must successfully complete an Eagle Scout Board of Review. According to the Boy Scouts of America, 56,841 of its members earned the Eagle Scout rank in 2013.
The final cost of the monuments came in at just under $4,000 and was paid for solely through private donations.