Although he sported standard Boy Scout attire rather than a Roman tunic and breastplate, Sam Belanger became a centurion last Saturday afternoon — the 100th Scout from Troop 7 to achieve Eagle rank.
The unprecedented milestone was recognized during a ceremonial court of honor held at Bethany Congregational Church and attended by family members, friends and an assortment of dignitaries.
“This is the end of a trail but the beginning of a new era in your life,” observed Tom Perry, former scoutmaster of Troop 7, who served as master of ceremonies.
Recalling Belanger as a timorous 7-year-old Tiger Cub, Perry reflected on the gradual metamorphosis that occurs as children grow into young adults.
“Inch by inch they lose their childhood and we as parents lose our little boys,” he said.
Perry characterized Belanger and several of his close friends as “super Scouts,” and urged younger members of Troop 7 to measure their own advancement against his standards.
“He’s the consummate Scout and worthy of being the 100th Eagle from Troop 7,” he said. “We’re very proud and amazed at the future that lies before Sam.”
Perry also pointedly complimented Belanger’s parents, Bill and Tina Belanger of Milton Lane, saying they both threw themselves into the scouting program
“What great role models for your sons,” he said.
Enhancing the family atmosphere was Michael Belanger, Sam’s uncle, who received his Eagle badge in 1982.
Observing that a reliable compass is indispensable when traversing unfamiliar territory, Michael Belanger suggested a person’s “inner compass” is critical to making wise decisions throughout life.
“The difference between a good compass and a poor one is how quickly the needle settles into position,” he said. “And what you put your trust in … shapes who we are as individuals.”
Belanger concluded by counseling his nephew to trust his inner compass in making purposeful choices about friendships and career, as well as periodic course corrections in life.
Also participating in the ceremony was Belanger’s older brother, Jack, who received his Eagle badge in January 2018 and administered the Eagle Scout oath.
Belanger’s Eagle Scout project involved installing a pair of stone benches and a POW/MIA memorial at St. Mary’s Cemetery. Enlisting the help of John Ricker from Morse & Beggs Monument Co., he designed the project and then secured necessary funds for supplies.
Since being dedicated earlier this year, the memorial has become a place of reflection to ensure that prisoners of war or others reported mission in action are never forgotten in our community.
Through his association with Troop 7, Belanger participated in high adventure outings at Florida Sea Base in 2015, Northern Tier Canoe Base in Canada in 2016 and Utah High Adventure in 2018. He also accumulated 25 merit badges since transitioning from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouting in the April 2013 – 13 of which were requirements for Eagle rank.
On hand at Bethany to present legislative citations was state Sen. Paul Feeney, R-Foxboro, who said the scouting program continues to provide an antidote to rampant cynicism which infects public life.
“There is no better example of someone who is spreading optimism than our new Eagle Scout,” Feeney said, referring to Belanger. “You have a great future ahead of you. I can hardly wait to see what you do.”
Charles DiPompo, representing the National Eagle Scout organization, congratulated not only the new Eagle Scout, but also the Belanger family, Troop 7, Bethany and St. Mary’s churches and the entire Town of Foxboro — all having had a hand in shaping Belanger’s character.
“Always support your fellow Eagle Scouts,” DiPompo advised. “What an awesome fraternity.”
Timothy Webster, representing the Sons of the American Revolution organization, presented a resolution recognizing Belanger’s patriotic leadership and high moral character.
“You represent those same values that characterized the founding of our nation,” Webster said.
Troop 7 Scoutmaster Wayne Jansen presented Belanger with an American flag which flew over the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
Responding with brief unscripted remarks, Belanger thanked his peers, his family and those who mentored him through the scouting program. He also singled out VFW commander Warren Wright, who contributed to his Eagle project, and expressed gratitude to Tom Perry for guidance and encouragement over the years.
Invited to deliver a benediction, the Rev. Matt Wescott, pastor of St. Mary’s Church, also had kind words for Belanger.
“As your priest, my prayer for you is to keep close to the Lord,” said Wescott, who received his own Eagle badge in 1991. “But you could do worse than just remembering the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
A reception following the ceremony was held downstairs in the Bethany church hall.