Last year, the Mayor’s son completed a project at Ft. Mifflin in Philadelphia to repair stairs while also logging the names and information of veterans at the Berlin Cemetery
James Bilella III has always had a strong interest in history. As he’s gotten older, he’s had the opportunity to learn more about both the world’s and nation’s history, but also the importance of his immediate surroundings in Berlin Borough and just across the Delaware River in Philadelphia.
Bilella became active in Scouting in kindergarten and stayed involved as he got older. Earlier this month, he celebrated with family and friends at his Court of Honor ceremony, as he became an Eagle Scout as a senior in high school.
He led a project last year to repair stairs that overlook the Delaware River that were in need of repair, coordinating the materials needed and completing the project with the help of his fellow Scout members in Troop 48 from Berlin.
“I went in and found the exact measurements and replaced the main staircase that is the most used,” Bilella said. “Then I went a step further to improve it and added a handrail for the elderly and a step down to make it more safe. Then I cemented it in concrete to make it more stable too.”
The project took a few months of planning before completing it over two days.
An additional project he completed last year was the logging, recording and researching of the graves of more than 1,250 veterans of the U.S. military from all branches at the Berlin Cemetery, established in 1766.
Over the course of six months, Bilella says he did so because the cemetery has no complete records of these veterans at the cemetery, ranging in wars from the American Revolution to Operation Desert Storm and all in between.
“Many of them, the graves have worn down and they didn’t know exactly who they all are,” Bilella said. “So I made a comprehensive list of every veteran who has served.”
Information on these veterans, thanks to Bilella, will now include their full name, their branch of service, years lived and any special awards or medals they may have been awarded for their service. Those in the cemetery include Holocaust survivors, a Hessian soldier and POWs as well.
Bilella will soon present the comprehensive list to not only the Berlin Cemetery, but also the Berlin VFW Post, the Berlin chapter of the historic commission and the Berlin Historical Society.
After the months of hard work and service, Bilella became an Eagle Scout and celebrated his award at a ceremony at St. Simon Stock Parish. Fellow Eagle Scout Bill Gates sent Bilella a letter to congratulate him on his accomplishment.
After years in the Scouts, he says it’s incredible to have reached this accomplishment in his life.
“It meant a lot to me, it’s a humbling experience,” Bilella said. “It put me through a lot. It’s difficult, it’s not an easy thing to do.”
Scoutmaster of Troop 48 Mike McCormick has been with Bilella for approximately seven years and has enjoyed seeing him continue to grow.
The troop hosts an election every year for a leader to be in charge for a six-month period, and Bilella won twice last year. While on a trip to Acadia, Maine, last year, Bilella was in charge of leading and directing activities for the group.
“To watch him take charge and go from the 11-year-old follower to the ring leader is amazing,” McCormick said. “He’s so patient with newer Scouts and good about helping them out when they might be in trouble.”
“James is a great Scout; responsible, patient, and really good at helping out others,” McCormick added.
Mayor James Bilella, the newest Eagle Scout’s father, says he was proud to see his son complete these projects over the past few months.
“I was getting choked up as I was reading what it means to be an Eagle Scout,” said Mayor Bilella, also an Eagle Scout. “I’m proud of him and his accomplishments and sticking with it and meeting all the requirements.”