“Ma, You Earned Your Eagle”

February 11, 2014

Did you earn Eagle rank in Scouting?

Show this video below to your mother — it will endear you to her (as if you needed that).

Last year the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) commemorated 100 years of Scouting as the youth program for boys and young men in the church.  In October there was a world-wide telecast of a ceremony in Salt Lake City.

This song was part of that telecast.

Look at the vintage uniforms some of the boys wear. (I have three of those hanging in my closet . . .)

IF you know the mother of an Eagle Scout — or the father — show this to them.  They’ll appreciate it.  They’ll probably have some even better stories to tell you (stories which I hope you’ll share in comments).

“Ma, You Earned Your Eagle”

Somewhere, Busby Berkeley’s Ghost is laughing, soaking in this production.  It only lacks an Esther Williams number in the water to be a full Berkeley musical, no?


Published on Oct 30, 2013

[From Sean Mobley] A fun musical snippet from the October 29th presentation “Legacy of Honor” commemorating the 100 year relationship between the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church. I’m not LDS, but as an Eagle Scout, I know my mom earned hers, too! Check out the whole presentation here: http://www.scouts100.lds.org/


Tip of the old scrub brush to Mary Almanza, for finding the video, and to Kathryn Knowles, our resident Scout Mother.

Following in a Family Tradition — Becoming and Eagle Scout  Julie Reimer displays her Eagle Scout Mom pin, given to her by her son Michael during the Eagle Scout ceremony on Friday, December 30, in Whitefish. Julie has four such ribbons and pins, one for each of her four sons.

From Whitefish, Montana, DailyInterLake.com, Brenda Ahearn photos: Following in a Family Tradition — Becoming an Eagle Scout, Julie Reimer displays her Eagle Scout Mom pin, given to her by her son Michael during the Eagle Scout ceremony on Friday, December 30, in Whitefish. Julie has four such ribbons and pins, one for each of her four sons.


Mike Rowe: The value of Scouting, even for kids who don’t make Eagle

June 7, 2013

Distinguished Eagle Scout Award

Distinguished Eagle Scout Award Wikipedia image

Boy Scouts of America (BSA)  invited Mike Rowe to the 2012 Annual National Meeting.  They asked him to speak, but surprised him with a Distinguished Eagle Scout award.

Listen to his praise for the value of Scouting, for and from Scouts who don’t make Eagle (it’s at least ten minutes in, but this is entertaining).  Rowe has two brothers, neither of whom earned Eagle; his story involves the exploits of his younger brother, who was a Scout, and achieved the rank of Star.

It really is a Star Scout story.


Ray Suarez receiving his Distinguished Eagle S...

PBS News Hour’s Ray Suarez receiving his Distinguished Eagle Scout Award. You find Eagles all over the place. Wikipedia image

100 years of Eagle Scouts

August 1, 2012

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the Eagle Scout rank, awarded first to Scout Arthur Eldred.  2.1 million Eagles so far.

Do you have an Eagle Scout in your family?  Tell us about it in comments.


Why so few streets named after Vietnam veterans?

June 11, 2011

Junior Cruz of Salt Lake City was 15 when his Eagle Scout Project honored a fallen soldier from our war in Iraq, Adam Galvez.  You can read a stirring story from The Deseret News at Adam Galvez.com.

Junior Cruz, with Cpl. Adam Galvez's parents Tony and Amy Galvez, at Adam Galvez Street in Salt Lake City

Boy Scout Junior Cruz, with Cpl. Adam Galvez's parents Tony and Amy Galvez, at Adam Galvez Street in Salt Lake City

Marines honor fallen comrade Cpl. Adam Galvez, Salt Lake City, 2007

Marines honor their fallen comrade Cpl. Adam Galvez, at the ceremony naming a street after Galvez.7

Once upon a time I might have wondered about the utility of such a project, not because naming a street after a veterans isn’t a great idea, but because the actions required for naming streets might not measure up to the usual expectations for great service in an Eagle project.  This project and the stories about it quickly dispel such worries — for example, notice that the city required Cruz to raise the $2,000 required to change the street signs, such fundraising itself a major accomplishment.  Our son James’s project at the DFW National Cemetery required similar fundraising, and got at least as much in in-kind contributions — but it was major work.

Marines at the naming of Adam Galvez Street, 2007

Marines salute at the ceremony for the naming of Adam Galvez Street, 2007

Reading the news story, I thought back to a question that has plagued me for years:  Why didn’t we have the good sense to welcome back Vietnam vets with parades, and other welcome home activities?  That was one great lesson of Vietnam I think we, as a nation, learned well.  Today national news programs, like the PBS Newshour, honor each fallen soldier in our nation’s wars.  Here in Dallas, and at other cities I suspect, there is a formal volunteer program to make sure soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan deployments get a flag-waving cheer when they get off the airplane.  Churches, schools, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts volunteer to go wave the flags and cheer the soldiers.  The volunteers may get more out of it than the soldiers, but the message is clear all the way around:  These soldier men and women served their nation, and they deserve thanks and a cheer.

Ceremony naming Adam Galvez Street, February 2007

Ceremony naming Adam Galvez Street, February 2007

Is it too late to do that for Vietnam veterans?  A chief complaint over the years, especially from the war-hungry right wing, is that the Vietnam peace movement dishonored those veterans, chiefly by not honoring them more when they came home.

My brother, Wes, served four tours in Southeast Asia in that war, returning each time to no great celebration other than his family’s great gratitude at his return.  He’s too great a patriot to complain — as are most of the other Vietnam vets.  Our periodic patriotic celebrations now do better:  Vietnam vets get honored at July 4 and Veterans’ Day celebrations, and the fallen get special honors on Memorial Day, in most towns in America.

Junior Cruz hit on a great idea, though:  Name a street in honor of the fallen.

Why not do that for more Vietnam vets?  My hometown of Pleasant Grove, Utah, had a population of fewer than 10,000 people during the Vietnam conflict, but well I remember in my high school years when the list of fallen passed 11, including a recently-graduated studentbody president and basketball star and the brother of a woman in my French class.   Neither of them has a memorial other than their gravestone, that I’m aware.

Adam Galvez Street, Salt Lake City, Utah

Adam Galvez Street, Salt Lake City, Utah

Street names can tell us a lot about a town or city.  In the great booming times of 1950s through 1990s, a lot of streets in America were named after developers’ kids, wives and ex-wives.  More recently developers have taken to cutesy names on a theme designed to sell homes:  “Whispering Waters Way,” “Mountain View,” etc.   Those cities where history gets some note in street names do well, I think.  Ogden, Utah, named a bunch of streets after presidents, in order of their service, from Washington through the second Harrison (and as a consequence, a lot of people who grew up in Ogden can name the presidents in order from Washington through almost to Teddy Roosevelt).  New York has not suffered from renaming a stretch of road The Avenue of the Americas, Washington, D.C. has done well with both Independence Avenue and Constitution Avenue.

Why not rename some streets in American after Vietnam veterans?  While we’re at it, how about Korean War veterans?  We can’t recapture the time and do what we should have done about 58 years ago for Korea or about 45 years ago for Vietnam.  We can do noble things from now, forward.  Why not create memorials that remind us of the great service these people did for their nation, and name and rename streets in their honor?


Scouts Shooting for the Moon: The story of twelve Moon walkers, and Scouting

April 30, 2011


Astronaut and 2nd Class Boy Scout Eugene Cernan saluted the U.S. flag on the Moon, on the last Apollo mission, Apollo 17. Photography by Astronaut and Tenderfoot Scout Harrison Schmitt. NASA image.

A short piece I presented this morning to the Tom Harbin Scout Museum Symposium on Scout History, a great morning organized by Bob Reitz, the curator of the Tom Harbin Scout Museum at Camp Wisdom, in Dallas, Texas. Of course the material is copyrighted, but by all means you have permission to use the material at Courts of Honor or in recounting the better history of Boy Scouting.

Scouts Shooting for the Moon:  The story of twelve Moon walkers, and Scouting

This is a recreation with modern numbers of a presentation first used a decade ago. Searching for material for a speech to honor Eagles at our District Dinner, several people suggested in a short period of time, ‘Why not talk about the astronauts who landed on the Moon. I hear they were all Eagle Scouts.’  Was that accurate?  It would have been a good story if so. Research revealed something quite different. The true story can carry just as much inspiration, however. Scouting is shown to be a program that can lead to a lifetime of adventure and accomplishment. Also, Eagles may take some inspiration in knowing they have accomplished something most of the men who walked on the Moon did not.

Speakers constantly need good material for Eagle Scout Courts of Honor and other events honoring Scouts and Scouters. For one event honoring a group of new Eagle Scouts, several people urged that I research the facts behind the story they had heard, that most, or all of the men who walked on the Moon were Eagle Scouts. New Eagles would find comfort in knowing they had soared into the midst of such company, they reasoned.

So it came to pass that, before the advent of Wikipedia and Google, I spent hours on the telephone until a press person at NASA pointed out to me a collection of information on astronauts that NASA had thoughtfully put on-line. At some high cost I printed out the few pages that dealt with the Scouting experience of astronauts, and worked to correlate it with information about which of them had gone to the moon, and which had not.

Anyone can find that book online with ease, today. The NASA Astronaut Fact Book provides information on almost every detail about NASA’s crew of astronauts, past and present. It includes one-and-a-half pages on the Scouting background of people working as astronauts and payload specialists for NASA, and others NASA has launched into manned missions. Cross-indexing that information with lists of Apollo Mission astronauts, I created four short tables showing the Apollo astronauts who went to the Moon, their missions, and the Scout rank they achieved, if any.

Lunar Astronauts and Scouting Experience

Twelve Moon Walkers

Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Neil Armstrong Apollo 11 July 21, 1969 Eagle Scout
2 Buzz Aldrin Apollo 11 July 21, 1969 Tenderfoot Scout
3 Pete Conrad Apollo 12 November 19-20, 1969 Cub Scout
4 Alan Bean Apollo 12 November 19-20, 1969 1st Class
5 Alan Shepard Apollo 14 February 5-6, 1971 1st Class
6 Edgar Mitchell Apollo 14 February 5-6, 1971 Life Scout
7 David Scott Apollo 15 July 31-August 2, 1971 Life Scout
8 James Irwin Apollo 15 July 31-August 2, 1971 None
9 John Young Apollo 16 April 21-23, 1972 2nd Class
10 Charles Duke Apollo 16 April 21-23, 1972 Eagle Scout
11 Eugene Cernan Apollo 17 December 11-14, 1972 2nd Class
12 Harrison Schmitt Apollo 17 December 11-14, 1972 Tenderfoot Scout

Apollo 13

Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Jim Lovell Apollo 13 Lunar Swingby Eagle Scout
2 Jack Swigert Apollo 13 Lunar Swingby 2nd Class
3 Fred Haise Apollo 13 Lunar Swingby Star

Lunar Missions That Did Not Land

Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Frank Borman Apollo 8 Orbited only None
2 Jim Lovell Apollo 8 (&13) Orbited only Eagle Scout
3 William Anders Apollo 8 Orbited only Life Scout
4 Tom Stafford Apollo 10 Orbited only Star Scout
5 John Young Apollo 10 (& 16) Orbited only 2nd Class
6 Eugene Cernan Apollo 10 (& 17) Orbited only 2nd Class

Others Who Did Not Land

Name Mission Dates on the Moon Scout Rank
1 Michael Collins Apollo 11 Capsule pilot None
2 Dick Gordon Apollo 12 Capsule pilot Star Scout
3 Stewart Roosa Apollo 14 Capsule pilot None
4 Al Worden Apollo 15 Capsule pilot 1st Class
5 Ken Mattingly Apollo 16 Capsule pilot Life Scout
6 Ronald Evans Apollo 17 Capsule pilot Life Scout

In all, 24 men flew to the Moon. Twelve set foot on the lunar surface. Of the twelve, eleven were Scouts, two were Eagles. Of the 24, 20 were Scouts, three were Eagles.

At the time I originally researched, about 70% of all astronauts were alumni of Scouting, men and women. Officially, BSA lists 181 NASA astronauts as being alumni, 57.4%

NASA lists the colleges and universities astronauts attended. NASA lists military service, hometowns, and states of birth. But with the possible exception of a generic category of “public schools,” no category of astronauts is larger than the category of Scouting experience. If we were advising a young person on how to get to become an astronaut, we would be remiss if we did not advise him or her to join Scouting.

What can we conclude?

Three things became apparent to me in tracking these figures down. One, I learned once again that the true stories most often carry great value, more value than the stories people make up, or assume.

Two, I learned that Scouting by itself carries great value, without a Scout’s having earned Eagle. We know that not all the Moon walkers earned the Eagle rank. But we also notice that no flight ever went to the Moon without at least two Scouts aboard. Three of the 24 lunar voyagers are Eagles, 12.5%. Two of the dozen who actually set foot on the Moon are Eagles, 16.7%. Eleven of the twelve Moon walkers were Scouts, 91.7%. 21 of 24 lunar voyagers were Scouts, 87.5%.

So, while it was not necessary to be an Eagle, it certainly seemed to help. But simply having Scouting experience seemed to be the biggest help. There may be some magic in a boy’s having taken that oath that carries through his entire life, and spurs him to do daring and great things. That is important. A trend begins to emerge. Scouting by itself, without earning the highest rank, provides great value. When a boy signs up, he signs on for the adventure of a lifetime, and often that leads to a lifetime of adventure. That venturesome spirit carries on well past his Scouting years.

The story of Jim Lovell might carry some great weight with Scouts. Lovell is the only person to have gone to the Moon twice, but never set foot on it. He was the commander of Apollo 13, whose near-disaster was chronicled in the movie of the same name. Among other lessons that might be pulled out of the story:  When your Moon-bound spaceship explodes and loses power on the way to the Moon, it is often good to have an Eagle Scout handy to help get through the experience and return safely.

Is there inspiration here?

When I first presented these figures at a Scout meeting, a parent asked me whether these numbers would discourage boys from working for any rank advancement, since just being a Scout seems to carry such weight. This should not discourage Eagles, nor discourage any Scout from working to get the Eagle rank. We should look at it this way:  Every Scout who earns an Eagle has done what ten of the twelve who walked on the Moon did not do, perhaps could not do. Nine more Moon walkers started on that path to Eagle, but did not finish, or could not finish.

Not every Eagle can go to the Moon, but every Eagle has already won an award that most of those who did go to the Moon wish they had.

Especially in the circles of corporate and government leadership, character, what it is and how to get it, concerns people. What sort of character does it take to go to the Moon? Every Scout has a glimpse of what is required, and every Eagle can say, “I know what it takes to get such character.”


Human Spaceflight, “The Apollo Program,” NASA, July 2, 2009; accessed April 28, 2011; http://spaceflight.nasa.gov/history/apollo/

Astronaut Fact Book, NASA,  NP-2005-01-001JSC, January 2005; accessed April 27, 2011; spaceflight.nasa.gov/spacenews/factsheets/pdfs/astro.pdf

BSA, “Facts About Scouting,” 2009; accessed April 28, 2011; http://www.scouting.org/about/factsheets/scoutingfacts.aspx

“Astronauts With Scouting Experience,” Eagle Scout Information, U.S. Scouting Service Project, April 6, 2011; accessed April 29, 2011; http://www.usscouts.org/eagle/eagleastronauts.asp

About the author:

Ed Darrell teaches U.S. History at Moises E. Molina High School in Dallas. He has taught economics, government, world history and street law in high schools; he also taught at the University of Utah, University of Arizona, and DeVry University. He is a former speech writer for politicians. His degree in Mass Communication came from the University of Utah, and his law degree from George Washington University. This was presented to the Jack Harbin Museum Symposium of Scout History, April 30, 2011.

World Scout badge carried to the Moon by Astronaut Neil Armstrong.

World Scout badge carried to the Moon by Astronaut Neil Armstrong.



Photog (and Eagle Scout) Luke Sharrett leaving NY Times . . .

August 13, 2010

Go see the photos.  Seriously.  “The Capital was his classroom”, by David Dunlap.

Doubtless, there are other accomplished photojournalists in Washington who have won an Eagle Scout medal with bronze palm. Luke Sharrett of The Times may be the only one who earned his just six years ago.

And he is almost certainly the only photographer who’ll be leaving the D.C. press corps on Friday to start his junior year in college.

“Why are you doing that?” President Obama asked him as Air Force One was taking off the other day.

Dunlap does not say whether Sharrett earned the Photography Merit Badge.  Anyone know?

Oldest Eagle Scout, Walter Hart

July 20, 2010

Working to confirm, but news from Florida and a highly reliable source is that Walter Hart died over the weekend, at 91 by my calculations.

You would remember Hart as the oldest Eagle Scout, having gotten his award three years ago, when he was 88.

Mr. Hart should be remembered as a hero, and certainly as an inspiration to aspiring Eagle Scouts — especially those facing a short time to their 18th birthday.

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