by admin | September 18, 2015 8:52 am
I attended a Court of Honor recently for a young man who became an Eagle Scout at 16 — an impressive achievement. Eagle is the highest rank in Boy Scouts. Only 7 percent of Scouts make it to that level. It takes grit, hard work and the ability to finish tasks. To make Eagle Scout in just five years is even more rare, since one must be 11 before joining a troop.
The young man thanked his parents, fellow Scouts, all those who helped him arrive at this milestone in his life. And then he thanked his grandfather, who sat beside him at the head table. His grandfather became an Eagle Scout nearly 70 years ago. Now he was presenting the badge to his grandson. There was not a dry eye in the room.
The newly pinned Eagle Scout is a member of the same troop to which I belonged beginning in 1968, when we moved to Longview from New Hampshire. Troop 201 still meets in a rustic building on the outskirts of Teague Park. Gov. Gregg Abbott was a member of that troop. When the future governor and I were in Troop 201, V.G. Rollins was Scoutmaster. Rollins was a legendary leader who is remembered fondly by a couple generations of now middle-aged men, including me.
Troop 201 was formed 98 years ago, just seven years after scouting came to America in 1910. My grandfather, Carl Borders, was 12 years old in 1917. He joined Boy Scouts and made it to First Class, three levels below Eagle while living in Douglas, Wyoming. My grandfather in the 1940s became a scouting volunteer, and later a professional Scout. That is why, once we pulled into Longview to live with him until my parents could find a house to buy, I ended up in Troop 201. My grandfather had me in that troop practically before the U-Haul trailer was unpacked. He was field director for the East Texas Area Council and ran Camp Pirtle up on Lake Murvaul during the summer. There was no discussion. I would be in Scouting, and a member of Troop 201.
It was a wise decision, since I was a bit stunned at this sudden move to East Texas, and the accompanying culture shock. My parents — especially my dad — had talked about moving out of New Hampshire forever, it seems, escaping those long winters. Now it had actually happened. Suddenly, I was the guy who talked funny, not these folks saying “y’all” and “all-get-out.” I had been in Boy Scouts in New Hampshire, camping in the snow, hiking in the White Mountains. Now it was sweating under the pine trees and earning my Mile Swim Merit Badge in the murky waters of Murvaul. By joining Troop 201, I had a group of boys to help me adapt to living behind the Pine Curtain.
My dad was an Eagle Scout. He never pressured me to become the second generation in our family to do so. That was not his way. As someone at the recent Court of Honor said of himself, the “Two Gs” — gasoline and girls — prompted me to drop out of Troop 201 around my 16th birthday. I needed to work more hours to pay for gas in the 1954 Dodge that had been handed down from my grandfather to my dad, and then to me when I turned 16. And girls, well. I retired from Scouting at the rank of Life, the second-highest, but a world away from Eagle. My grandfather no doubt was disappointed.
My youngest brother Gregg took up the slack. Nine years younger than me, he reached Eagle Scout while in Troop 201. As an adult he continued the tradition by serving as a volunteer. Then, several years ago his son, Matt, became the third generation in our family to have a Court of Honor.
I thought about all that as we watched that young man be honored for that achievement. He joined a relatively small fraternity of young men who had the determination — and the support of a lot of people — to reach that highest level. It was a privilege to be there as another young man joined the elite ranks of Eagle Scouts.
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