Local Eagle Chosen for National Outstanding Youth Volunteer for Veterans Award

With a WWII airman for a grandfather, Wilsonville Scout Dawson Durig set out to find an Eagle Project that would honor the veterans of the American Military. Upon discovery of the weather-worn state of the Pleasant View Cemetery where over 150 U.S. war veterans are buried, Durig undertook a project that would lead to a Memorial Day ceremony and the National Outstanding Youth Volunteer for Veterans award from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The flagpole at the Pleasant View Cemetery was old and rusted—Durig made it the focal point of his project and set to restore it. Durig sanded off all the rust and repainted it; he adorned an eagle on top and installed a granite slab at the base of the pole with the engraved names of the veterans buried in the cemetery. Each veteran’s grave was given a heavy brass medallion. Durig wanted “to inspire others and to be proud to come back later in life to see what [his] project has done for others,” he said.  The project was no small feat, it took over a year and $12,000 to accomplish. “He focused one complete year on it,” his mother Carrie Durig said, “there was no downtime.” Raising the money was a difficult task—Durig managed to fundraise by speaking to local businesses and veteran organizations. “He learned a lot about public speaking and staying calm because he had to do a lot to raise $12,000,” Carrie said. All of the leftover money was put into a fund to purchase any new medallions for future veteran gravestones. 

As a conclusion to his project Durig organized a Memorial Day ceremony. It was attended by roughly 400 people with a large military presence. Complete with a military band, firing salutes, and a military fly over, the ceremony was a great success. During the ceremony, Durig was approached by members of the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter inquiring if they might nominate him for an award.

Early in 2016, Durig found out that he had won the National Outstanding Youth Volunteer for Veterans award for the state of Oregon. He was then entered into the running for the regionals in which Durig won all six regions and was selected as the National Winner of the award at the end of April. Durig will fly out to Washington DC this June to be given the award. “Going to Washington D.C. for the presentation of this award is a huge honor and I am so touched to have this amazing chance to represent all the veterans I honored at this cemetery,” Durig said.

By Adam McDonald