Scout’s honor

Ea­gle project pays tribute to Civil War vets

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - FRONT PAGE - BY JIM DINO STAFF WRITER

DRIFTON — On the day be­fore Vet­er­ans Day, two vet­er­ans who served their coun­try over a cen­tury and a half ago fi­nally were rec­og­nized for their ser­vice.

It took an Ea­gle Scout to give them their due.

Ben Sa­batos de­cided to cre­ate a mon­u­ment to Charles and Alexan­der Coxe be­cause of his in­ter­est in the Coxe fam­ily his­tory.

“Nov. 11 is Vet­er­ans’ Day, a time to re­mem­ber all those who served, past and present,” said Bryan Dun­ni­gan, the founder and pres­i­dent of the Sophia Coxe Me­mo­rial Foun­da­tion, which has the Coxe House in Drifton, where the mon­u­ment now stands.

“Here we are, 158 years later, re­mem­ber­ing these vet­er­ans. and all the vet­er­ans who served their coun­try in time of need.”

Charles and Alexan­der Coxe fought for the North in the Union Army, Dun­ni­gan said.

“They both mus­tered out as ma­jors at the end of the Civil War,” Dun­ni­gan said. “Alexan­der serves as aide to Gen. (Ge­orge) Meade with­out

com­pen­sa­tion. I read that in his obit­u­ary. Charles was in the Sixth Penn­syl­va­nia Lancers, (U.S.) Cavalry. Both of then had fairly nice, dis­tin­guished records dur­ing the Civil War.

“Charles is ac­tu­ally wounded, and that kind of plagues him for the rest of his life. That’s the part of the fam­ily that did the Egyp­tol­ogy. He ac­tu­ally dies in Egypt.” (The Coxes spent a lot of time in Egypt and brought back ar­chae­o­log­i­cal trea­sures to the then-new Mu­seum of Ar­chae­ol­ogy and An­thro­pol­ogy at the Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia, which a fam­ily mem­ber en­dowed.)

The Coxes served dur­ing the Civil War era, 1861 un­til 1863 — and one of them could have been at Get­tys­burg.

“Meade was there, so it’s very pos­si­ble,” Dun­ni­gan said.

Wal­ter Po­girski, a re­tired war re-en­ac­tor of the 81st Penn­syl­va­nia Vol­un­teers, Com­pany K, which mus­tered out of Eck­ley and Alexan­der was part of, con­firmed the com­pany was at Get­tys­burg.

“The 81st fought at the wheat field, the sec­ond day” of the bat­tle, Po­girski said.

Charles and Alexan­der were two of the five Coxe broth­ers. “Alexan­der and Eck­ley mostly ran Coxe Broth­ers and Co.,” Dun­ni­gan said. “All five broth­ers were part of it, but in dif­fer­ent as­pects.”

Sa­batos ac­tu­ally en­hanced a mon­u­ment placed on the Coxe House grounds in the early 1990s, Dun­ni­gan said. The Ea­gle Scout had to work hard — not only to get do­na­tions for the mon­u­ment, but to build it, Dun­ni­gan said.

“Ben is one hard-work­ing in­di­vid­ual,” Dun­ni­gan said, “This was all hand work. He had to dig all of the posts, and the footer was 18 by 46 (inches), and they wanted at least 12 inches of pour, so we had to mix al­most 450 pounds of con­crete by hand. This kid got a work­out.

“He was very dili­gent, very per­sis­tent in this project. He is truly an ex­am­ple of what a Boy Scout is and should be,” Dun­ni­gan said. “He re­ally em­braced this. He’s into his­tory, and he is a real go-get­ter. It took two and a half months to do it.”

All do­na­tions Sa­batos ob­tained for the me­mo­rial were ma­te­ri­als — Lowe’s Home Im­prove­ment Cen­ter do­nated all the lum­ber; Ben’s grand­mother and grand­fa­ther, Jan and John Sa­batos, do­nated the two ar­borvi­tae shrubs on each side of the mon­u­ment; one of the lo­cal as­so­ci­ates, Donna Schade, do­nated the in­ter­nal plant­ings, and VFW Post 8253 in West Hazleton, where Dun­ni­gan is a past com­man­der, do­nated the Amer­i­can flag.

Wal­ters Mon­u­ment Co., Sum­mit Hill, do­nated the mon­u­ment it­self.

“The fa­ther and son were both Scouts,” Dun­ni­gan said of the own­ers.

Sa­batos, son of Dave and Dawn Sa­batos, is a mem­ber of Boy Scout Troop 473, based at the Free­land Amer­i­can Le­gion. He said Dun­ni­gan gave him the idea to build the mon­u­ment.

“It was mostly Bryan’s idea, but when he gave me the idea, I loved it,” Sa­batos said. “I like the his­tor­i­cal as­pect of it. I was re­ally proud to get help from him.”

A stu­dent at the Hazleton Area Academy of Sciences in Drums, Sa­batos is in­ter­ested in study­ing com­puter science af­ter high school. In ad­di­tion to his par­ents, he was ac­com­pa­nied at the ded­i­ca­tion cer­e­monies by his sis­ter, Abby.

Post 473 did a gun salute at the ded­i­ca­tion, and taps was played.

Aside from the 81st Penn­syl­va­nia Vol­un­teers, Com­pany K, the VFW and the 143rd Penn­syl­va­nia Vol­un­teers, mus­tered out of Luzerne, also were rep­re­sented.

MARY T. PAGANO / CON­TRIBUT­ING PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

Boy Scout Ben Sa­batos poses at the mon­u­ment in honor of Charles and Alexan­der Coxe that he com­pleted as his Ea­gle Scout project. The mon­u­ment stands out­side the Coxe home in Drifton, where it was ded­i­cated Satur­day.

Bryan Dun­ni­gan speaks dur­ing Satur­day’s cer­e­mony.

MArY T. pAgANo / CoN­TrIBUT­INg pHo­Tog­rA­pHer

Vet­er­ans of For­eign Wars Post 5010 and Amer­i­can Le­gion Post 473 of Free­land par­tic­i­pated in the ded­i­ca­tion ser­vice for a mon­u­ment hon­or­ing Civil War vet­er­ans Charles and Alexan­der Coxe. The honor guard in­cluded, from left, John Davis, Amer­i­can Le­gion se­nior vice com­man­der; Ge­orge Merenich, VFW com­man­der; Paul Thomas, Le­gion ad­ju­tant; John Sul­li­van, Le­gion ser­vice of­fi­cer; and Joe Barna, VFW se­nior vice com­man­der.

Civil War re-en­ac­tors par­tic­i­pat­ing in the ded­i­ca­tion were, from left, Wal­ter Pod­gorski and Mike Berta, 81st PA Vol­un­teer In­fantry Reg­i­ment, and Bruce Geiger and Jay Bonito, 143rd PA In­fantry Reg­i­ment.

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