Twelve years ago I took a little six-year-old first grade boy to his first Tiger Cubs meeting. He was so bouncy we sometimes jokingly referred to him as "Tigger." Before that meeting he was literally climbing the structural beams in the walls in the church classroom and tagging the ceiling. The gentleman who was in charge of Cub Scouts for the church said, "there’s a future Eagle Scout." I reckon that over the years he, and usually I, have been through about 450 den, pack and troop meetings, about 40 weekend camping trips, and a most memorable two week backpacking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch. He went without me to numerous weeks of camps and a couple of high adventure trips.
Yesterday a sturdy young man of eighteen, who at the end of this month will fly off to begin college studies — and college football — in California, stood in front of a church sanctuary and received his Eagle Scout award. At the conclusion of the ceremony the often monosyllabic teenager stood alone with his feet firmly planted and talked for about five minutes, graciously and articulately thanking the adult leaders of the troop who had "put up with" him along the way. Last he thanked "Dad, who told me to keep going when I didn’t want to do this any more; he told me when I finished I would be glad I did, and I am glad." Then he came down and gave me a big hug.
There are moments in life you just want to hang on to. This was one.
Here is the Eagle Scout Charge that was administered to my son yesterday afternoon:
I have the honor to give you the Eagle Scout charge on the occasion of your elevation to the highest rank in Scouting.
The Boy Scouts of all nations constitute one of the most wholesome and significant movements in the world’s history and you have been counted worthy of this high rank in the Boy Scouts of America.
All who know you rejoice in your achievement. Your position, as you well know, is one of honor and responsibility. You are a marked man. As an Eagle Scout you have assumed a solemn obligation to do your duty to God, to country, to your fellow Scouts and to mankind in general. This is a great undertaking.
As you live up to your obligations you bring honor to yourself and to your brother Scouts. Your responsibility goes beyond your fellow Scouts to your country and your god. America has many good things to give you and your children after you; but these things depend for the most part on the quality of her citizens.
Our country has had a great past. You are here to make the future greater. I charge you to undertake your citizenship with a solemn dedication. Be a leader, but, lead only towards the best. Lift up every task you do and every office you hold to the high level of service to god and to your fellow man. So live and serve that these who know you, will be inspired to the finest living. We have too many who use their strength and their brains to exploit others and to gain selfish ends. I charge you to be among those who dedicate their skills and ability to the common good. Build America on the solid foundations of clean living, honest work, unselfish citizenship and reverence for god and, whatever others say or may do, you leave behind you a record of which every Scout may be justly proud.
On behalf of the Court of Honor of the Atlanta Area Council, Boy Scouts of America, with the high hope that you will always represent the finest of character and citizenship, we welcome you into the brotherhood of Eagle Scouts and congratulate you, your parents and your Scout leaders.
Pass it on, son.