Eagle Scout honors Marine brother with Holly Springs monument
Posted May 30, 2016
Holly Springs, N.C. — At a Holly Springs Memorial Day celebration on Monday, there were uniformed personnel, flags and flowers. Congresswoman Renee Ellmers came. But at this ceremony, the featured speaker was just 19.
David Griffith was unveiling the results of his Eagle Scout project, a monument to local service members killed in recent wars. Griffith knew by building it, someone like Steve Schmaus would come.
"I'm honored to be here," Schmaus said, choking back tears. "I worked in the World Trade Center. I watched those buildings being built, and I watched them come down. I had to come."
Griffith built the monument because he wants to be a Marine, just like his big brother, who once showed him inside a cockpit.
"As a 4-year-old, that meant the world to me, because back then I wanted to fly jets with my brother," Griffith said.
Most of all, Griffith, now 19, pursued this Eagle Scout project, because the face on the granite belonged to his brother. Maj. Samuel Mark Griffith was shot to death in December 2011 in Afghanistan.
So by a lake in Holly Springs, Griffith's monument stands inscribed with the face of his brother chiseled in stone, and the names of other local warriors who fell in the fight.
Boy Scout Henry Swafford said he was inspired by Griffith's work and by the sacrifices of the men he set ot to honor.
"I'm very, very grateful for all the veterans who served our country, and I wish to be one of them someday, and I'm also going for my Eagle Acout, too," Swafford said.
David Griffith said the monument, in Holly Springs' Veterans Park, is a place where the community can reflect and give thanks. On Monday, he placed two bottles of Yuengling beer – his brother's favorite – by the stone in a toast to his memory.
Griffith will follow in his brother's footsteps, first enrolling at Penn State University. He plans to join the Marines as an officer after graduation.