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'Gold Star Mothers' memorial focus of Eagle Scout, senior projects

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The basalt pillars behind Boy Scout Nicholas Denchel will this Saturday be the location of a new sign for Grandview's Legion Park. Denchel has made the sign and a memorial for Gold Star Mothers the focus of his Eagle Scout and senior projects.

GRANDVIEW - For years Grandview's Legion Park has been without a sign and not many in the community knew its actual title.

All that is about to change thanks to Prosser High School senior and Grandview resident Nicholas Denchel, the son of Dan and Michelle Denchel.

He has been working on what is the focus of both his Eagle Scout and senior projects, a memorial for Gold Star Mothers and a sign indicating the park on the east side of Grandview is Legion Park.

The name of the park was given to the stretch of land along Palacios Parkway when the Grandview American Legion Post donated the property to the city.

Denchel said the post built a sign for the park and installed a flag pole there in the mid-1970s.

The sign stood for approximately 25 years, but he said weather and the elements took their toll on the sign and it had to be taken down.

"It wasn't ever replaced," said Denchel.

He said the idea of a memorial to honor local veterans was originally planned during his junior year. He wanted to dedicate a memorial to the fallen soldiers in Prosser, but coordination with various organizations fell through.

Denchel was halfway through his junior year when he needed a new direction and his Boy Scout troop leader, Scout Master Jim Davidson, told him about Grandview's Legion Park.

"He knew the park's history," said Denchel, stating Davidson also told him about Gold Star Mothers.

"I didn't know what a Gold Star mom was," Denchel admitted, stating he began visiting posts around the region and met a few mothers whose children were killed in action.

"There are 35 Gold Star moms in Grandview," he said.

The names of those mothers have been kept on record by the American Legion post and Denchel decided not only to honor the soldiers who have been killed while serving at war, but to honor them by honoring the mothers who have made a sacrifice to their country through the loss of their children.

"They became the men they were because of the women who raised them," said Denchel.

He said he has gained a greater appreciation for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice serving their country, and he greatly respects the mothers who were responsible for raising individuals willing to serve in the armed forces.

"That is why I am pleased the project is in my community," Denchel said, stating he has gone to great lengths to raise $1,000 of the approximately $4,000 he needed to construct the memorial for the Gold Star Mothers and a sign set on basalt pillars that indicates the name of Legion Park.

"It serves as a symbol to the community...a symbol of the troops and their mothers...all that I am proud of," he said.

Denchel said he began his fundraising efforts last September and has had numerous donations to fund the project, which he began constructing this past January.

This coming Saturday, May 7, a dedication ceremony will be held at the park at 11 a.m.

Denchel said he intended the dedication to coincide with Mother's Day and he has learned much about his community through the project.

"I also learned there are many generous people who truly care about honoring our veterans," he said.

To complete the project, Denchel said 380 hours have been volunteered by his family and members of the community.

He said the project would not have been completed without the support of everyone who has helped him.

In addition to his sign and the memorial for the Gold Star Mothers, Denchel said fellow scout Rafael Rangel is erecting a new flag pole at the park for Rangel's Eagle Scout project.

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