December 25, 2013 - On the surface, it looks like just an ordinary slab of concrete, nothing special.
But to Life Scout Ricky Dvorak, a senior at Oxford High School, it's a way for him to help honor local veterans and serve his community.
Back in October, Dvorak, a member of Oxford Boy Scout Troop 108, spent a week with his fellow scouts and some volunteers laying a concrete surface around the three flagpoles that form the heart of the veterans memorial area at Ridgelawn Memorial Cemetery on W. Burdick St.
OHS senior and Life Scout Ricky Dvorak raises the American flag. (click for larger version)
"I thought it was wonderful that he even thought about doing something like that," said Chris Acheson, who manages the cemetery that his family's owned since 1927. "The (veterans memorial) was like 50 percent finished (before) and he brought it up to 95 percent. Now, all I have to do is put the benches on (it)."
This work served as Dvorak's Eagle Scout project.
"I thought it would be a very honorable project to do," he said. "I feel that most Eagle Scout projects done today aren't as momentous or profound as a veterans memorial."
In order to attain scouting's highest rank, a scout must plan, develop and serve as leader in a service project that helps a religious organization, school or community.
"He did a tremendous job. It was like a 99 on my scale," Acheson said. "His initiative to make that part of the cemetery a much better place was a wonderful thing."
Dvorak, who began his scouting career as a second-grader at Clear Lake Elementary, wanted to do something to help recognize local veterans because he has two uncles who served in the Vietnam War and he's planning to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard.
"The military is very close to my heart and I'm very into law enforcement," he said.
"He has pride in his country and he's got respect for the veterans," Acheson said. "He appreciates what the veterans have done for him and the country."
Dvorak got to enjoy the fruits of his labor when he raised the American flag high above Ridgelawn's veterans memorial during the Dec. 14 Wreaths Across America ceremony.
"I felt really proud," he said.
In order to make his project a reality, Dvorak raised $750. With the exception of a $300 contribution from his uncle, Bill McLaughlin, a Vietnam veteran, the rest of the money came from a bottle/can drive Dvorak conducted.
Dvorak was inspired to work toward the Eagle rank by his older brother, Dominic Dvorak, an OHS graduate who had previously achieved this feat.
"That gave me a lot of motivation," he said. "I think it's a really good opportunity to show my leadership capabilities, and it looks good on job and college applications."
Outside of scouting, Dvorak has been a member of OHS cross country and track and field teams.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.