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Scout Pursues 'Peace Pole'

The events of Sept. 11 continue to have an effect on everyday life — including Boy Scout Troop 913 — a group of 45 boys from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Herndon.

Zachary "Zack" Braun, 15, a freshman attending Bishop O’Connell Catholic High school in Arlington began scouting as a Tiger Scout in the first grade. In the second grade he became a Cub Scout and rose to the level of Boy Scout in fifth grade. Braun is currently on pace to become an Eagle Scout and has enlisted the Town of Herndon as the backdrop for his scouting project that will help him earn his promotion.

"My project is a peace pole," said Braun. "It’s a four-sided pole, eight feet tall and made of cedar wood. On each side it says ‘May peace prevail on Earth,’ in four languages: English, Spanish, Chinese and French. This is to remind people of peace and how important it is today — to remind everybody that all people are created equal and we shouldn’t discriminate," he said.

Braun said he decided on the project in December in light if the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in Arlington on Sept. 11.

"One of the planes that hit the Pentagon flew directly over O’Connell," said George Braun, Zack Braun’s father.

"I did some research on some other projects like cutting down trees or planting something, but the concept of a peace pole intrigued me," said Zack Braun, who played football last fall and runs track this spring at O’ Connell. "I never heard of a scout doing a peace pole," he said, noting they are "typically done by mayors of cities. There’s one in Latrobe, Penn."

BRAUN PRESENTED his idea before the Hendon Town Council on April 9 during its public hearing. He is hoping to place the pole at the Old Town Hall site facing Elden Street. While the council neither approved nor denied permission for the teenager to plant his pole on town property, it pointed him in the direction he will need to go in order to secure permission.

"I think a visible reminder to the community of our continuing desire for peace is excellent," said Town Councilman William "Bill" Tirrell, Sr., chairman of the Powhatan Boy Scout District of the National Capital Area Council. "From the Boy Scout perspective I’m delighted that a young man pursuing his Eagle Scout award would bring this forward to the community," said Tirrell.

The next step for Braun is to present his case before the Town’s Architectural Review Board and work with John Dudzinsky, the 13-year Town of Herndon community forester.

"This will go before the ARB in the June meeting," said Dudzinsky, coordinator of Eagle Scout projects that take place on town property. "I provide scouts with a suggested list of projects. This was not on the list. Zack came up with this on his own. I think it’s a good idea. We’re at war. It just shows a good gesture to everybody from him and the town that there can be peace," he said.

"I think it’s a great idea," said assistant scoutmaster Robert "Bob" Benedict, a 16-year Herndon resident and owner of Northwood Construction in Herndon. "It offers to be a tangible rallying point for people. It says a lot about Zack that he’s willing to stand up and show people what he believes in," he said.

In the interim, Zack Braun needs to order the peace pole from Montana. In order to do that, he needs to raise the money needed for the pole, the shipping and handling, flowerbeds to surround the pole and a plaque. He estimates needing $400, which he planned to raise via car washes.

"That’s a lot of car washes," said George Braun, adding that his son is also mowing lawns to raise the money. "Plus he’s doing odd jobs and there’s a mention in the church bulletin.

"We’re hoping to plant the pole on July 4," said Zack Braun. "It’s a national holiday for freedom and a good day for a peace pole ceremony," he said, adding that he would give a speech and "I hope to have the mayor there."