Junior Nick LaDuca of Auburn earned his Eagle Scout at a Court of Honor ceremony on November 30. LaDuca who is in Troop 11 in the Cayuga District, restored a 100-year old monument at Owasco Lake this past summer.
The monument, which is at the foot of the lake, was established by the Knights of Columbus to commemorate a selfless act of heroism by local resident Ned Burke.
In July of 1911, Burke, a navy nurse, and his cousin Adelaide McCarthy, went for a canoe ride on Owasco Lake. While they were canoeing, a storm rolled in and soon the pair was shoved overboard by the large waves. As rescuers from the shore were making their way to them, they could see Burke holding on to the canoe with one arm and the unconscious McCarthy in his other. The rescuers approached the couple and heard Burke's last words as he held onto his cousin before he went under the surface: “Don't mind me, save the girl.” Burke never came back up.
LaDuca, who has been a Boy Scout since he was 6, decided to share Burke's story with the community once again. His project was to clean the memorial and plant flowers around it for the rededication. LaDuca's project informed the people of his community about real life local heroes and how history happened right in their own backyard.