Meet the American Spirit Award finalists: Day 1 of 4


Yesterday, we told you about the American Spirit Award, an honor given to "one or more individuals who demonstrate extraordinary skill, professionalism, and a spirit of excellence in a challenging situation."

And starting today and continuing through Friday, we'll introduce you to the four young men who are finalists for this award.

At the end of the week, you can decide which young man best embodies the spirit of the American Spirit Award and cast your vote. Voting is open now and closes on Feb. 11.

Today, you'll meet T.J. Ellwein of the Baltimore Area Council. T.J. helped improve a portion of Arlington National Cemetery. 

Read more after the jump.

Meet T.J. Ellwein

  • Read a news story about T.J.'s Eagle Scout project in The Capital, an Annapolis, Md., newspaper.
  • Read about T.J. and his proud parents in the Rapid City Journal. T.J.'s parents are South Dakota National Guardsmen, so the story interests those living in Rapid City, S.D.
  • Read the Boys' Life summary below:

T.J., a 19-year-old Eagle Scout from Troop 1437 in Davidsonville, Md., knew he wanted to clean up a veterans’ cemetery for his Eagle project. He just didn’t know which one.

Turns out Chaplain’s Hill, a section of Arlington Memorial Cemetery reserved for military chaplains and chaplain’s assistants, was the perfect spot.

T.J.’s mother is a chaplain’s assistant and oversees all of the chaplain’s assistants in the Army National Guard. And T.J. himself was the chaplain’s aide in his Boy Scout troop.

For T.J., this project was personal.

“I chose it because I want to show respect for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the cost of our freedom,” he says.

“It’s a way to give dignity to the chaplains and chaplain’s assistants by paying tribute to those who brought the word of God to many other servicemen and women.” After more than 400 hours of fundraising, paperwork and preparation, the 400 headstones on Chaplain’s Hill got a much overdue cleaning.

A few months later, T.J. completed his project when he assembled a brochure rack for the cemetery’s visitor center. T.J. says he would like to some day become a physical therapist to help wounded soldiers.


Schedule of posts about the American Spirit Award:

Monday: We told you about the award itself.

Today: You met T.J. Ellwein of the Baltimore Area Council.

Tomorrow: You'll meet Brad Garr of the Grand Canyon Council.

Thursday: You'll meet Jacob Netzel of the Occoneechee Council.

Friday: You'll meet Jack Pape of the Mid-America Council.

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