Story and photos by Chris Basham
When the storms come, eagles soar. For seven young Prince George's County men, pinned to Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor ceremony held Sept. 7 at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church in Fort Washington, Md., determination and the support of loving mentors and parents have worked together to evade the storms of life, bringing honor to their community and to Boy Scout Troop 487, known for mentoring more African-American Eagle Scouts than any other troop in the nation.
To achieve the rank of Eagle Scout, each young man completed a project aimed at improving his community, while testing his leadership skills.
Javonté Parrish Brown, 16, created a bullying awareness and prevention program for elementary, middle and high school students and their parents.
Brandon Ryshawn Cherry, 15, built a footbridge over a ravine on a walking trail in Watkins Regional Park in Upper Marlboro, Md. To read about the project and see photos of Brandon's footbridge, visit www.dcmilitary.com/article/20130419/NEWS09/130419802/0/SEARCH.
Breion Goodson, 18, refurbished the fellowship hall of Randall Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.'s Deanwood neighborhood.
Ra'John Madison, 16, hosted a "Boys to Men" program aimed at helping teenage boys transition to manhood.
Christopher Mason, 19, organized a clothing drive for the people of Haiti.
Nathan W. Tanner, 18, developed an awareness campaign on the dangers of texting while driving, securing 150 pledges from individuals not to text and drive.
Preston White, 16, created an accessible vegetable garden for senior residents of the Koehler House shelter.
The young men join 90 other Troop 487 Eagle Scouts pinned to the honor since 1992. Several of Troop 487's fellow Eagles participated in the ceremony, including Ebenezer AME youth minister the Rev. Akil Dickens, who achieved the rank of Eagle in 1994, after what might have seemed to be an inauspicious start in Scouting.
"They forced me in here, but it was one of the greatest blessings of my life," said Dickens. "The rank of an Eagle Scout, for an African-American in this community, in this country, speaks volumes."
Maryland Senator C. Anthony Muse (D-Dist. 26), who presented certificates of achievement to the newly pinned Scouts, agreed with that assessment, and charged the Eagles with continuing their efforts to show the good things young African-American men are doing in Prince George's County.
"No matter how many times we present certificates to you and no matter how many times you receive these awards, I hope you show others a role model, that we have great young people in our community," Muse said.
The Rev. Dr. Jerome Tarver, associate minister of Maple Springs Baptist Church in Capitol Heights, Md., reminded the boys that the challenges they faced as they earned their Eagle rank have value that will help them in life, just as storms, "help to protect and shape the eagle. Eagles can soar while others fail."
"Because they have struggled, they now have the strength to overcome," said Tarver. "If we take away the struggle, we take away the strength."
Troop 487 Scoutmaster Mark Adams, in his remarks, recounted memories of each young man's Scouting career.
"The last question I ask is, 'Are you ready to be an Eagle?'," explained Adams of the preparations he makes with each prospective Eagle Scout. "The cool thing is, I already know they're ready, because I watched them grow."