(JANUARY 2, 2016--HONOLULU)--Sixteen-year-old Matagi Matagiese received congratulatory messages from three members of the U.S. Congress but he didn't notice them at his Court of Honor held in mid-October last year. His mind was focused on his father Alailelagi Mana'oimalo Matagiese, who died last August while serving as Bishop of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Waipahu First Samoan Ward.
"I was thinking about my dad and him not being here anymore" Matagi said. "It was kind of disappointing. It was kind of hard for me to have this ceremony. If he were here I would thank him for bringing me to where I am today and for helping me. He always pushed me, made sure I was doing everything as a Scout. He did everything for me."
Matagi said he "was put in a position where I had to decide if I was going to hang out with my friends or participate in the Scouting program."
Eight years and 27 Merit Badges later, he earned Eagle Scout, joining the more than two million young men (a little more than two percent of the boys who enter Scouting) who've achieved the honor since 1912. Eagle Scout is the highest attainable rank in the Boy Scouts, one of America's largest and most prominent youth development programs that builds character, trains for responsible citizenship and develops personal fitness, it states on scouting.org. Each Scout makes this promise:
On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.
Scout Law reads:
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.
Matagi's Eagle Scout rank with the Boy Scouts of America Aloha Council Ka'ala District Team 6268, was achieved through a service project at the Hawai'i Plantation Village Grounds in Waipahu. located on the west side of O'ahu. The project employed the help of his father, the Waipahu First Samoan Ward Single Adults, the Elders Quorum, fellow Scouts and leaders with Team 6268 and additional Ward members.
"I want to thank all of them for their support and for making this Eagle Scout ceremony possible," Matagi said.
The Plantation is a popular historical site in Waipahu, called a "sugar plantation town," the old Waipahu sugar mill a vivid reminder of the town's economic and cultural history. The Village is an outdoor museum that tells the story of life on the sugar plantations (circa 1850-1950) for laborers of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Puerto Rican, Japanese, Korean, and Filipino descent.
In the Hawaiian language, 'wai' means "water" and 'pahu' means "burst or explode." Waipahu is the name given to an artesian spring in the area, by the native Hawaiians. Hawaiian royalty gathered at Waipahu for the cool fresh water. The town was considered O'ahu's capitol, pre-sugar plantations.
In the summer of 2015, Matagi, currently a senior at Mililani High School, led his team in beautifying the area bordering the plantation, clearing off overgrowth, cutting down tree branches, pulling weeds and putting in new plants along the roadside that borders the plantation on Waipahu Street.