Note: Feel free to use this letter in your Eagle Scout Court of Honors.
Dear Eagle Scout,
No doubt you have received letters from many dignitaries congratulating you on the honor of attaining the rank of Eagle Scout. And while those congratulations are most certainly deserved, I have a different reason for writing to you. Being an Eagle Scout myself, and an adult scouter for many years, I often used to ask myself why I was involved with scouts. Certainly it is a lot of fun, and it definitely provides positive examples for young men. But in 1999, I got my answer.
As I’m sure you know, on April 20, 1999, two teenage boys entered Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado where they shot and killed 12 of their fellow students and one teacher, as well as wounding 24 others before committing suicide. It is considered to be the deadliest school shooting in the United States. I won’t dwell on the details, or lecture on the problems of today’s youth, for there was a subsequent event that forever touched me and how I feel about the Boy Scouts of America.
Fast forward to the Denver Area Council Fall Camporee of the fateful year. In front of more than 7,000 scouts, 5 young men from Columbine High School were awarded the Medal of Honor from the National BSA. This award was given to those scouts for demonstrating unusual heroism and skill in saving the life or lives of their fellow students at considerable risk to themselves. Everyone of them was an Eagle Scout. Is this a coincidence? I think not – they all had experiences from scouting that had prepared them for whatever life threw at them. One of the young men, even after being shot himself, still found the courage and presence of mind to lead over 100 others to safety, including carrying a handicap student out of the line of fire.
What made this night even more special was that this was homecoming for Columbine High School, and each of these Eagle Scouts proudly brought their dates to the Camporee – truly displaying scout spirit! When I hear scouts talk about how they are embarrassed to be involved in scouts and would never wear their uniform to school because of peer pressure and afraid of being laughed at, I think about those young men. Like them, I am proud to be an Eagle Scout, and I am proud to wear my uniform.
So if you ever wonder if scouting is worth all the time and effort, remember these young men and think of how many more lives you will touch in the future. I pray that you will never have to display the type of heroism these young men did, but I know you are prepared if you do. You have now joined those 5 Eagle Scouts, and all other Eagle Scouts as a role model that others look up to. You are in the company of Neil Armstrong, Gerald Ford, Steve Fossett, William Gates, Sr., Bill Marriott, Ross Perot, Steven Speilberg, and Sam Walton just to name a few. I wish you well in your endeavors and know that success will continue to be yours simply by living the Scout oath and Law in your daily life.
My sincerest congratulations,