Dylan Emery, of English Center, appreciates history.
"History can be forgotten. Not everyone will remember unless they can see it," he said.
It was with this in mind that Emery chose to restore more than 75 tombstones at the Summit Cemetery in Cogan House Township. The 17-year-old is working toward the rank of Eagle Scout as a member of the township's Troop 20.
Emery stands in the newly refurbished Summit Cemetery in Cogan House Township.
Emery is shown with a refurbished tombstone repaired as part of his Eagle Scout project.
Emery met with the Summit Cemetery sexton, John Guild; Jersey Shore funeral director, Toby Welker and Troop 20's Scout Master, Jason Berkihiser, to propose the project.
The cemetery dates to the mid 1800s and many of the 750-plus monuments were in definite need of restoration. Some were leaning at odd angles, many had fallen and been cracked or broken and still other foundations had sunk so far into the ground that they were barely visible.
After receiving approval for the project in October 2012, Emery chose the stones he thought needed to be repaired, put up caution tape to mark them, made a list of the materials that would be needed and the cost. Actual work began in April with the help of six other Troop 20 scouts.
Stones were lifted from their bases by the boys while other larger monuments required a skid steerer donated by Fisher Mining in English Center.
The foundations were squared, leveled and the stones reset. Millings from a local road project were offered by Hawbaker Inc. and this material was used to fill around the foundations of the stones. A number of broken grave markers were repaired with concrete donated by the Summit Cemetery Association.
As the Scouts worked on the initial stones they discovered more and more that needed attention, including one with an original insignia that designated it as the grave of a Civil War veteran.
Near the end of June, with 213 hours invested in the project, the tombstones in Summit Cemetery were standing erect and solid once again.
Recently the Summit Cemetery board of directors congratulated Emery on his efforts.
"Emery's project has given new life to our cemetery. We could never have done this work ourselves. He has shown a real Eagle Scout spirit," Guild, in his capacity as sexton and member of the board of directors, said.
Working toward the rank of Eagle Scout requires dedication and discipline. Emery and his brother Derek have been in scouting for six years.
His father, Tim, assists Troop 20 in all their efforts and is an advocate of the scouting program for his sons.
Only four percent of Scouts ever attain this rank. Since the main emphasis is to teach leadership, becoming an Eagle Scout can be an important factor later in life when applying for educational scholarships or employment opportunities
In addition to the merit badges Emery has already earned, he must complete requirements for two more merit badges and document every aspect of the Summit Cemetery project in a 27-page report.
He hopes to complete all the requirements for his Eagle Scout rank by the end of this year.
When asked what advice he would give to other Scouts wanting to work toward their Eagle Scout rank, Emery said, "Always be persistent and it will pay off."
There is more than a century of history on the grave markers in Summit Cemetery.
A list of the requirements to earn Eagle Scout status can be found on the Boy Scouts of America website at www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/eagle.aspx.