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Greater St. Louis Area Council: Boy Scouts of America

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Gravois Trail


Gravois Trail > Posts > Gravois Trail’s Ray Wilson Honored as Missouri Eagle Scout of the Year
January 08
Gravois Trail’s Ray Wilson Honored as Missouri Eagle Scout of the Year

Fallen Soldier Memorial.jpg

Along the banks of the Meramec River, tucked away in a quiet corner of Fenton Park stands a solemn, bronze statue of a life-size pair of a soldier’s boots, rifle and helmet. The sculpture, referred to as a ‘Soldier’s Cross,’ has a home in the park thanks to the efforts of Gravois Trail Eagle Scout Ray Wilson. The Fallen Soldiers Memorial, designed to honor all American soldiers who have given their lives to serve their country, took almost three years to complete and helped earn Wilson the 2012 Missouri Eagle Scout of the Year award.


Nominated by American Legion Post 400, Eagle Scout of the Year encompasses more than just Boy Scouting. To qualify, an individual must have demonstrated practical citizenship in church, school, Scouting and community. Wilson, one of 100 nominees vying for the distinction, has also logged more than 1,000 hours of community service through various projects in addition to his work with the Fallen Soldiers Memorial.


Five years ago, when Wilson was just 12 years old and attending junior high, he was sitting at home when the idea first struck him.


“I was watching TV one day and I saw a commercial about some type of memorial for veterans,” Wilson said. “I had seen the battlefield cross before and I thought Fenton Park would be a perfect spot for the Fallen Soldiers Memorial. I thought this would be a good Eagle project so I proposed the project to the Board of Alderman.”


Once he received the initial approval from the board, the Scout from Troop 121 was put in contact with a city architect. Together the two mapped out a plan for how the memorial would look and where it would go, but ultimately it was Wilson who got to make the final decision. In Fenton Park stands a spectacular granite and stone memorial, appropriately called the Heroes Memorial, dedicated to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Just behind this sleek structure with its twin towers is where Wilson planned to put the Fallen Soldiers Memorial.


Thus began a lengthy process in which Wilson had to go about raising funds for the memorial. He needed money to purchase the statue, the granite base, the surrounding sidewalk and then the labor needed to perform the installation and work.


“I went to local businesses and also did fundraisers,” said Wilson, whose story ran in publications such as USA Today, Chicago Tribune and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “There was also a story that ran on the news and I received donations from people that way but most (of the funds) came from business owners.


“It was hard at first. When I started the project, the economy was really down so that hurt but when I went out to ask business owners for funds, many were very generous.”


Once the necessary monies were secured, as well as volunteered manpower to perform some of the work, a sum of around $25,000, Wilson presented his plan in front of the board for final approval. This time however, he was met with skepticism. The setback didn’t deter Wilson as he stood his ground while also benefitting from American Legion Post 400, which voiced its support of the project. Finally, Wilson won the consent to finish his memorial.


After nearly three years of hard work and attention, the Fallen Soldiers Memorial was dedicated on May 31, 2010. Since then, his younger brother, Shawn, has enhanced the space with two granite benches, two granite pillars and two bronze plaques.


Wilson, who enjoys playing sports as well as the trombone, enjoys spending time outdoors and often visits Fenton City Park on a weekly basis where he proudly views the memorial he helped put in place.

Ray and Shawn.jpg


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