Much is made of earning Eagle Scout, and for good reason. However, each year, thousands of young men in Scouting age out of the program without reaching the rank of Eagle, and many of them have an experience in Scouting that is just as valuable, if not more so, than others who make it all the way to Eagle.
Consider the story of Julian, who is beginning his junior year of college. During his final years in Scouting, Julian was working toward earning the rank of Eagle, but, like many young men, life got in the way. Commitments at school and work began taking up more and more of Julian's time, and, though he started the early stages of an Eagle Scout project, he never managed to complete it.
He turned 18, aged out of Scouting, and moved on to the next chapter in his life, but something about not finishing his Eagle Scout project stuck in the back of his mind. His project, he believed, was worth finishing. Just because he no longer had the opportunity to earn the rank of Eagle didn't mean he had to give up on his project.
So, more than two years after he graduated from high school and well past the time when he was still an active Scout, Julian decided he would complete his Eagle Scout project.
He spent the summer raising funds, assembling supplies, then building and distributing small first aid kits to homeless people in his hometown. The years serving at the local soup kitchen had helped him understand the plight of the homeless, and he believed that a small first aid kit offered a basic element of healthcare that many homeless individuals lack.
Even though no one will pin an Eagle medal on Julian's Scout uniform, his story is a reminder that doing a good deed is a reward in itself. It demonstrates that the values of Scouting live on well past a Scout's 18th birthday, and whether a Scout earns the rank of Eagle or not, he can still make a significant impact on his community, his family and friends, and the world.
As we have spoken often in the past, one of the most difficult parts of life is accepting responsibility for finishing a task we start, particularly when the going gets tough and we see an easy way out. But keep your promises when you make them, gentlemen, even the ones you make to yourself. For a man who doesn't keep his word will not be respected and will not be trusted. As you depart here this evening, ask yourself what kind of man do you want to be known and remembered as?
Good night, gentlemen.