I will be attending an Eagle Scout court of honor today. It is for the seventeenth Boy Scout to attain this rank since I became the scoutmaster of Troop 68 in 1981. Am I proud of this Scout? You bet I am, as I am proud of each of the young men of Troop 68 who have earned this recognition. I am looking forward to attending this ceremony.
One part of the ceremony that I always enjoy, that has been a part of many of the Eagle Scout courts of honor that I have attended, is when a young man (or two) who previously earned the rank comes forward to the podium and recites the Trail To The Eagle. Not only does it bring back memories for the new Eagle Scout, his friends, and his parents, but it also gives the rest of the audience a small idea what this Scout had to accomplish on the way to this lofty goal.
At this time, I would like to include the Trail To The Eagle as a part of this blog entry:
This is the trail to the Eagle, the Eagle whose heights you struggled to reach. We remember well when you first came to the base of the cliff, and how you looked up with ambition and determination. Look back for a moment, look back over the cliff you have climbed; look back at the experience you have encountered in your ascent. These experiences should not be forgotten, and you should profit by making sure that the adverse ones do not occur again. Experience is a valuable teacher if you heed its teachings.
We remember when you took your first step upon the trail that leads upward. With your first step, you began living the Scout Oath and Law. While you were on the trail, we watched you study and then we watched you learn by doing. First you were only a candidate, building yourself physically, mentally, and morally. Then your brother Scouts called you a Tenderfoot and they were right, you were indeed a Tenderfoot. But not for long, for soon you reached the first ledge where you were greeted by a group of Second Class Scouts. Some, like yourself, were stopping to catch their breath before continuing along the Eagle trail.
You began to study more, you worked harder, and almost before you knew it, you came to another ledge, the ledge where First Class Scouts dwell. There you found a tempting green meadow by a crystal clear stream, bathed by the sun. Here you were tempted to remain. Yes, you could have remained there to live in First Class glory, but your ambition stirred you on.
We remember your progress to Star Scout. You found the trail from First Class had been an optical illusion, not as difficult as it has seemed. This spurred you on, and again you climbed higher. Now the trail was steeper, it was less worn. Fewer Scouts seemed to be heading in your direction. You looked back and saw the crowds below you. You looked up and saw the few above you.
With the same determination with which you started your climb, you continued up the trail to the second peak, Life rank. The heart badge was then placed on your uniform. You will never forget the thoughts in your heart. It has been experienced by most Scouts on reaching the ledge of Life. “Now I am close to Eagle. I will carry on.” The trail became tougher, but more interesting. The original simple principles, the Scout Oath and Law, now had a fuller meaning. Your understanding of them was greater.
Yes, we have watched your character unfold and become manly. We have watched your leadership ability expand into a valuable asset. We have watched your mind develop and your wisdom increase. We have watched all of these things in you. Now that you are at the threshold of your goal, we welcome you. For you have done your climbing in a true Scout-like-manner. This is the trail to the Eagle.