Thanks! (Long posting)
Paul Russell (PRUSSELL@IUBVM.BITNET)
Thu, 24 Jun 1993 15:51:45 EST
Several days ago, I posted a note asking for your help. I had been
asked to speak at an Eagle Court of Honor and didn't know what to say.
The response from the list was outstanding, and I am (I think) ready to
mount the podium Saturday evening. While I want to thank everyone who
responded to my request for assistance, I want to especially thank Ches
Martin for posting (at some time in the past) the poem "It's Only A Pin",
Chris Haggerty for succinctly stating that "the requirements are mostly
trivial...", a statement that I will be quoting in its entirety, and
Mike Walton for (among other things) bringing it all together in the
EAGLETIP files. I am including the text of my speech below, in the hopes
that it might be some small help to someone else who finds themselves in
the same position. Btw, you really can call Irving and get answers. In
the space of five minutes (or less), I spoke to folks in Eagle Scout
Service, Registration, and Statistics. I learned that from 1910-1992,
total youth and adult registration was 87,158,867. For the same period,
total Boy Scout and Explorer youth (they didn't have seperate totals) was
43,297,872, and there were 1,283,886 Eagle Scouts. Just in case you were
wondering. YiS, pdr
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It's an honor and a privilege to be here this evening - to take
part in the celebration of this young man's achievement. It's also
a challenge - try to say something meaningful and inspirational,
without becoming boring or sanctimonious. Those of you who know
me, know that I'm seldom at a loss for words, so you may be
surprised to learn that finding the right words to say tonight has
not been an easy task.
Other members of this Court of Honor have told you about James'
Trail to Eagle - his progress through the ranks, his leadership
roles in the troop, his Eagle service project - his Scouting
experience. I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about the Eagle
Scout award itself.
From ancient civilizations of the Middle East to Native American
tribes of the Great Plains, and global super-powers of today, the
eagle has been a symbol of strength, courage, and independence.
It's understandable why, in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America chose
the eagle as the emblem for its highest rank.
It's been over 70 years since the first American Boy Scout raised
his right hand in the Scout Sign, and said the words "On my honor,
I will do my best". Since then, 40 million boys have made that
same promise, but only 1 million - about two and a half percent -
have attained the rank of Eagle Scout. Last year, in this council,
less than 200 received this honor. Why are there so few Eagles?
Is it because each of the individual requirements is so incredibly
difficult that only the brightest and the best can achieve them?
I have a friend - an Eagle Scout - who told me, "The requirements
for Eagle are mostly trivial. Doing them is what is significant,
because most people never finish what they start." The Eagle badge
is not evidence of its wearer's ability to tie a square knot, pitch
a tent, or explain the Preamble to the Constitution - though he
will have done all these things along the way. It is, rather, a
testament to his tenacity and determination, his vision and
leadership, his ability to set and meet goals, over and over and
over again, and to inspire others to do the same.
The qualities necessary to attain the rank of Eagle Scout are also
those that are necessary for success in life, and though the Eagle
badge does not itself guarantee success, it has come to be regarded
as an indicator of potential. That potential has been demonstrated
by men like Doctor William Devries - who transplanted the first
articificial human heart; by astronaut Neil Armstrong - the first
man to walk on the face of the moon; by producer, director and
merit badge counselor Steven Spielberg; by former President Gerald
Ford, Senator Richard Lugar, and Mayor Stephen Goldsmith; by all
those present here tonight who proudly bear the title "Eagle
The achievements - in all walks of life - of those who have
received this honor in the past stand not only as evidence of their
on-going commitment to the ideals of Scouting, but as a challenge
and an inspiration to the young man who is receiving this honor
In closing, I'd like to read a poem that was sent to me by a
Scoutmaster in South Carolina. Neither he nor I know the name of
the author, but the poem is entitled "It's Only A Pin".
Two fond parents watch their boy where he stands,
Apart from his comrades tonight,
And see placed on his camp-battered tunic, a badge...
An Eagle ... the emblem of right.
It seems just a few short months have passed
Since he joined with the youngsters next door.
How proud they were then of their Tenderfoot pin,
As they told of the message it bore.
But the years have gone by as he struggled along
To learn what the Scout Law's about;
He practiced them daily, the Oath and the Law,
Until now he's an Eagle Scout.
You may smile in your worldly wisdom at this
And say, "Why, it's only a pin."
But I'll tell you, no honors he'll gain as a man
Will mean quite as much to him.
The red, white and blue of the ribbon, you see,
Are the symbols of honor and truth.
He has learned how to value these fine attributes
In the glorious days of his youth.
And the out-flinging wings of the Eagle that rests
On the breast of this knight of today
Are the wings which will lift him above petty deeds,
And guide him along the right way.
Yes, it's only a pin, just an Eagle Scout badge,
But the heart that's beneath it beats true,
And will throb to the last for the things that are good;
A lesson for me ... and for you.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City