Ea­gle Scout who built VFW me­mo­rial up­set by van­dal­ism

Dis­play dam­aged on Fourth of July



— Elk­ton teen Ni­cholas Ci­folelli spent four years plan­ning, fundrais­ing and build­ing a me­mo­rial at Newark’s Vet­er­ans of For­eign Wars Post No. 475 for his Ea­gle Scout project, but it took only min­utes for some­one to van­dal­ize it.

Ac­cord­ing to Newark Po­lice spokesman Lt. Bill Har­grove, some­one dam­aged the bronze-col­ored statue of St. Michael — the pa­tron saint of the mil­i­tary, po­lice, fire­fight­ers and paramedics — that was orig­i­nally on a pedestal in the mid­dle of the me­mo­rial.

It was dis­cov­ered in pieces at ap­prox­i­mately 2 p.m. on In­de­pen­dence Day in the park­ing lot of city hall, which is lo­cated next to the VFW build­ing on Vet­er­ans Drive.

Ci­folelli, 18, said he found out about the in­ci­dent last


On In­de­pen­dence Day, some­one broke one of the wings on a statue of St. Michael that was in a me­mo­rial at VFW Post 475 in Newark.

Thurs­day, the day he was sched­uled to be hon­ored by the VFW for his hard work.

“My dad called me and I was like, ‘ You’re kid­ding

me,’” he said.

He said he only fin­ished his Ea­gle Scout project six months ago, but it took years of plan­ning start­ing

his fresh­man year at Elk­ton High School. He said he knew right away he wanted to build a me­mo­rial hon­or­ing vet­er­ans.

“A lot of peo­ple do projects at schools and churches and parks,” he said. “I wanted to do mine for the peo­ple who are the rea­son we have all of that.”

Ci­folelli took in­spi­ra­tion from the Viet­nam Vet­er­ans Me­mo­rial in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and got to work on build­ing a me­mo­rial on a small hill on the side of VFW Post 475. He raised $6,000 for the project by or­ga­niz­ing a din­ner at the VFW, so­lic­it­ing do­na­tions and sell­ing me­mo­rial bricks.

“When you men­tion you’re do­ing an Ea­gle Scout project and it’s for vet­er­ans, peo­ple are very, very giv­ing,” he said.

It took Ci­folelli and his dad 18 months to dig out the hill, lay the stone pa­tio and wall and build the wooden per­gola by hand with help from his soccer team and Scout troop. When the work was done, he placed the cold-cast bronze statue of St. Michael — paid for by the Knights of Colum­bus — on a pedestal in the cen­ter, en­graved with the poem “For­got­ten He­roes” by Richard Hem­phill.

Ci­folelli said the me­mo­rial was much more la­bor­in­ten­sive than he ex­pected and, at times, there were en­gi­neer­ing and con­struc­tion set­backs that made him re­gret tak­ing on such a large-scale project. But in­stead of giv­ing up, he fo­cused on his lead­er­ship, co­or­di­na­tion and mo­ti­va­tion skills.

“That’s when I learned per­se­ver­ance re­ally is the most im­por­tant part,” he said.

His fa­ther, Frank, said look­ing at the me­mo­rial makes him proud.

“When Nick sets his mind to some­thing, he stays with it, and he stayed with this,” he said.

Delaware VFW Chief of Staff John Morrow said last week that from the looks of the dam­age, it seems some­one took the statue off the pedestal and threw it onto the pave­ment.

“What a shame that some­body would do that,” he said.

Post Com­man­der Vince Shav­ico was just as shocked and dis­ap­pointed to learn some­one had ru­ined it.

“It’s hor­ri­ble, ab­so­lutely hor­ri­ble,” Shav­ico said. “We have World War II vet- er­ans here. Our post does a lot for the com­mu­nity. It’s just ter­ri­ble that some­body would do that.”

Se­cu­rity footage of the in­ci­dent is not avail­able, but Har­grove said po­lice are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing in an at­tempt to iden­tify a sus­pect. As of Mon­day, no new in­for­ma­tion was avail­able.

Mean­while, Morrow said, the VFW will try to get the statue re­paired, but it will be costly, and the VFW is al­ready strug­gling fi­nan­cially.

“It’s not an ev­ery­day item that you can just re­place,” he said.

Ci­folelli said he feels bad about the in­ci­dent and would be will­ing to help the VFW find a way to pay for the dam­age. Acts of van­dal­ism are never pleas­ant, but the fact that some­one dam­aged a me­mo­rial meant to honor vet­er­ans on In­de­pen­dence Day makes it that much worse, he said.

“The ideal sit­u­a­tion is that some­one did this be­cause they’re com­pletely obliv­i­ous, but that’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve I’d say,” he said. “Re­gard­less, it’s cer­tainly up­set­ting.”



Ni­cholas Ci­folelli, 18, of Elk­ton, Md., stands in front of the me­mo­rial he built at VFW Post 475 in Newark. On In­de­pen­dence Day, some­one took the statue of St. Michael off the pedestal in the cen­ter, dam­ag­ing one of its wings.

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