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Eagle Scout project honors Teton-Newdale cemetery veterans

September 18, 2018

NEWDALE – An Eagle Scout who has high hopes to attend the Army’s West Point, recently donated a 75-pound, five-foot bronze statue depicting a veteran’s boots and rifle to the Teton-Newdale Cemetery. At the base of the statue, it reads Edmund Burke’s famous quote, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing.”

Madison High School student Andrew Haws, 17, recently made the donation possible and used it for his Eagle Scout project.

“It’s the proudest accomplishment of my life so far. It was a lot of hard work, but I got a lot of great help from the community and from some great friends and family,” he said.

Haws started on his Eagle Project in 2016 where he worked to raise nearly $5,000 to purchase the statue. He solicited funds from area business, received donations from Pizza Pie Café and held a Grit League Obstacle Race at Eagle Park to help raise additional funds for the statue.

After nearly two years of fundraising efforts, Haws came up with the money to purchase the statue from the California-based Large Art Company.

“The statue cost $4,700. The company was really cool about helping us get a price lock,” said Andrew’s father, Sonnie Haws.

The company recently delivered the statue to the Haws’ home, and, earlier this week, the family placed the statue at the cemetery. It’s located in the middle of the cemetery near the flagpole. The Rexburg-based Sunroc Building Materials donated the concrete and other materials to help cement the statue into place.

Sonnie Haws said that the statue is an unusual Eagle Scout project for the region.

“We had the idea of what we wanted. We kind of looked at some other projects scouts had done, and this had not been done around here,” he said.

The Teton-Newdale Cemetery is especially meaningful to Andrew Haws as his family is from there, and numerous Haws’ loved ones are buried there. He has had many grandfathers and uncles who served in various wars. The community also has the distinction of having the highest per capita rate of people having served during World War II – in the country.

Cemetery official Bernice Siddoway confirmed those numbers.

“We have had so many people from our area who have served in the military,” she said.

Siddoway said that cemetery officials were thrilled to have Haws’ donation.

“We were pleased that they chose our cemetery to put that in. It’s finished, and it’s beautiful. It’s a nice addition to our cemetery. What a neat thing for a scout to do for an Eagle Scout project,” she said. “It has a spotlight on either side of it. It will be lit at night,”

Siddoway wasn’t surprised Andrew Haws stuck with the project that he started when he was just 15 years old.

“I knew he would get it done. Knowing the family, I knew they would get it done. They were very serious about it,” she said.

Andrew Haws says that his parents taught him how to make goals and to stick with them. He especially credits his mother, Chris, with her ongoing influence.

“My mom has taught me to set goals and to do whatever it takes to accomplish them. That’s a really big part of it,” he said.

While at Madison High School, Andrew Haws serves on the wrestling team.

“My wrestling coach is helping me to create goals and to do whatever needs to be done to accomplish those goals,” he said. “Wrestling is a class, and it’s definitely the best class ever.”

Following graduation, Andrew Haws hopes to attend the fabled West Point Academy.

“I’m in the process of applying. They have a seven or eight percent acceptance rate. That’s probably a huge challenge for me. If I don’t get accepted, I’ll reapply. My end goal is to become an officer in the U.S. Army and to move on to Special Forces. I’ll do what needs to be done and to accomplish my dream,” he said.

Should West Point accept him, Haws plans to take a year off in the middle of his studies to serve a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Sonnie Haws says that West Point officials encourage their students to do so.

“After a year, they’ll kick you loose to go on a mission. When those boys come back from their missions, they’re a lot more grown up. West Point encourages that,” he said.

West Point has been Haws’ childhood dream.

“I really hope that’s God’s will for me is to go into the military. That’s just been my dream for as long as I can remember. Every single soldier who puts on a combat uniform, goes out and does what they do every day, are my heroes, and I look up to all of them.” He said. “I have great uncles and grandpas who served in the military in almost every single war. I just want to keep that tradition and honor my family’s name.”

Should Andrew Haws not be accepted into West Point, he plans to go on a church mission in November.

As for his Eagle Scout project, Andrew Haws said that he was concerned at one point that he wouldn’t accomplish his goal of providing the statue to the cemetery.

“I was definitely worried about not being able to finish it, but I was able to get it done with lots of great help,” he said.

It’s easy to see how Andrew Haws accomplished his goal. He will receive 53 merit badges, which is significantly more than the required 21.

“My mom definitely pushed me to get those 53 merit badges. She taught me to do as much as you possibly can,” he said.

Andrew Haws is the oldest of three children; brother Jeffery, 7; and sister, Sonnie, 10. He expects Jeffery to also be an Eagle Scout.

“My mom will make him get it either way. I have faith she’ll make him,” he said.

Andrew Haws says the best thing about the Boy Scouts of America program is the people.

“I have a great troop and great leaders. Scouts teaches you how to survive out in the woods, to learn great lessons about life and what it means about being a good man. I’ll never forget those lessons that everyone instilled into me,” he said.

Now that Andrew Haws’ Eagle Project has been completed, he feels a great sense of gratitude toward everyone who helped.

“I feel very humble and grateful to all of the people who helped. It was not just a solo effort. My parents, family, friends, gracious members of the community – it makes me feel very grateful to have those people in my life,” he said. “It was definitely a tedious project, but, seeing it out there to honor our veterans, makes me very proud and grateful to be an American. This is the greatest country on the earth, and I wanted to build a statue that honors my heroes.”

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