Eagle Scouts: A Special Breed of Heroes
Have you ever had somebody swoop in and save the day, just at the precise moment you were sure it was unsalvageable? You know the kind of day, when from beginning to end, you just cannot catch a break, when it seems life decided to single you out as the recipient of the “worst day ever award.” Thankfully those days are far and few between, and for good reason, who can take that level of anxiety? My “terrible, rotten, very bad day” experience happened this past week and Superman swooped in, not wearing a cape, but instead brandishing a Boy Scouts of America pin.
I had the angst-filled pleasure of putting my kids on a plane for two weeks to visit my sister. It seemed like a good idea at the time until it finally started to rain in Florida again. Not just your average heavy rain but sheets of blinding water and thunderous storms making driving conditions dangerous and making us late for the airport. When we got there, parking on the top, open level, we were pummeled with water and soaked to the bone before we even got to check-in. There, we were told the correct accommodations hadn’t been made for my minors so they would be unsupervised on the flight.
That is when my panic skyrocketed, tears were close to the surface, and my children were silently begging me with their eyes not to cancel the day’s trip. And just as I was about to mouth the very words they were dreading, a young couple came up to me and said they had noticed my distress, were on the same flight and would be happy to keep an eye on them for me. The young man added, “I am an Eagle Scout and I will make sure they are okay.” And just like that, with those words, my fears were alleviated, for I know it is a rare group of upstanding individuals who achieve Eagle Scout status and the high moral conduct and helpful spirit that embodies.
Achieving Eagle Scout means the highest ranking in the Boys Scouts of America has been attained. Only 4 percent of Boy Scouts ever make this rank. To do so, the boys must go through a progressively difficult advancement program. Merit badges and activities are designed to help each child work together in a group setting, and advance within a ranking system. They will be taught skills by the older boys, and in turn, will be expected to take on leadership roles and responsibilities. The Scout Badge is awarded acknowledging the boys understanding of basic scouting skills. From there, the ranks include Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, Life, and the ultimate prize, Eagle. In addition, the Eagle Scout must participate in community service and leadership as well as participating in a Scoutmaster conference and passing a Board of Review. The Eagle Scout must choose a project within the community that not only positively affects the recipient but which also demonstrates his ability to organize the event and lead those volunteering on his behalf.
So, do you know an Eagle Scout? Interestingly, the resume of some of the most astute governmental leaders, brilliant professors, talented artists and performers, and renowned authors all contain one universal element. They all became Eagle Scouts. Notables include Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon; Willie Banks, Olympic track star; and Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City. In addition, many U.S. Presidents participated in Boy Scouts; however, only Gerald Ford achieved the highest distinction of Eagle Scout.
Heroes come in many shapes and forms, but they generally come with a giving heart, service to others, respect for leadership and an affinity for doing the right thing. Those are all traits narrated in the scouting tradition. And I hope that in raising a future Eagle Scout, I will be turning another do-good hero into the world, who may even help a distressed mother at some point.
Photos courtesy of Boys Scouts of America Facebook page and The Sarasota Post