Eagle Scout Ben Smith gifts history to Salisbury

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The unveiling of a new historical sign on the day before Thanksgiving at the Salisbury Public Cemetery known as Potter’s Field was a tribute to the hard work of local scout Ben Smith.

But, in truth, the ceremony was all about Ben gifting something special to the city of Salisbury.

Throughout the year Ben directed his chosen Eagle Scout project of rehabilitating Potter’s Field located on Commerce Street near business Route 50 next to Arby’s.

Having adopted the cemetery as his project, Ben dreamed of more than just sprucing up a few neglected burial sites.

Ben dreamed big — to rehabilitate damaged graves, document the burials, and to describe and honor the cemetery’s history with an historical marker. That sign was the cornerstone of Ben’s project, for he wanted visitors to understand the history he had learned.

Yet Ben’s efforts were far-reaching in ways that even he may not have imagined, as he has energized the community to think beyond the history of this one historic landmark. Not only has he received an outpouring of community support, Ben’s attention to Potter’s Field has opened eyes with his youthful perspective of the community’s history.

Ben educated others with what he learned about Potter’s Field and well as the lesser-known cemetery known as the Houston Cemetery located directly across the road. During the ceremony, Mayor Jake Day, in praising Ben’s work, made a sweeping gesture by pointing out both cemeteries important to the history of Salisbury.

Ben’s Eagle Scout project has demonstrated his ability to lead by example. It was not enough to repair a neglected cemetery, he also mapped the site and donated to the city artifacts that were located on the property during the work.

He raised funds from a host of sources and directed the work of his fellow scouts. And he worked with the city and Poplar Hill Mansion arranging the historical sign.

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Ben made hard work look easy by showing the community what could be done to honor its history. Now the community is looking at ways to honor the Houston Cemetery and other historic areas of Salisbury.

Ben completed his Eagle Scout project, the results of which he gifted to the community. Now, visitors and future generations will understand and appreciate the history of the Salisbury Public Cemetery. And thanks to Ben, the community is looking at its history anew, and pondering a few dreams of their own.

Linda Duyer lives in Salisbury. Contact her at lindaduyer1@yahoo.com

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