BEAVERTON, Ore – A Beaverton Eagle Scout’s project is helping a stranger’s family heal over their son’s death while serving in Afghanistan.
Jeff Keller lost his son Andrew to the war in Afghanistan last August. Afterward, Keller tried to get the Southridge football stadium renamed in honor of the former high school football player. But that proposal failed, due to district policy.
A makeshift memorial went up instead near Keller’s home, with 22 flags to honor each year of his son’s life.
Keller often drives by the memorial and one night he saw something that moved him to tears.
The flags were all down, possibly from a storm, and a dad and his three sons were out in the cold rain, fixing each one.
“I came up here and I just started crying,” Keller recalled. One of the boys said, “My name is Thomas Grooms and I am a sophomore at Southridge High School.”
Turns out, Grooms was on a mission to do much more. He had made it his Eagle Scout project to create a permanent memorial for Keller. It would include a flag pole at the same spot where the temporary flags stood.
Grooms had never met Andrew, although he went to the same high school and lived right down the street. But he said choosing this as his special project just felt right.
“I don’t know him, but he still fought for me and my freedoms, so it feels special,” Grooms said.
Tuesday night, the Beaverton City Council unanimously pledged to back Grooms’ memorial plan and Jeff Keller was especially pleased.
“Yeah! They’ve been fantastic,” he said. “I hope this will last a long time.”
Local businesses have donated the supplies for the flagpole and the bench. The memorial will also feature Andrew’s favorite roses.
Grooms was aiming for a fitting dedication date: Memorial Day 2013.