By Donald Halsing
Two months ago, I led Troop 44 Mendon through a long-overdue Eagle Scout court of honor. We postponed three ceremonies due to the pandemic. My three friends chose me as their master of ceremonies.
Well, I was “voluntold” because they believed I was the most qualified person for the role.
Leafing through the April 15 Mendon-Upton Town Crier, I began to appreciate why they chose me. Page three featured a story on the ceremony and a picture of five Eagles: Scoutmaster and FSU alumnus Ed Shea, his son Eddie, along with Andrew Mecham and Cam Duncan - our three newest Eagles - and myself.
What distinguishes us from anyone else?
My scoutmaster, Alan Koufos, said the Board of Review was more of a formality than a determination of my worthiness. Having mentored other scouts as a youth participant and an adult leader, I realized he was right.
Nothing about who I am changed when I earned scouting’s highest rank four years ago. I don’t believe a Board of Review, ceremony, or even moving through the ranks toward Eagle Scout changes anyone’s character.
When a young boy or girl joins a troop - and sometimes even as a Cub Scout - you can often tell they will earn the Eagle rank just because they display the right character.
There is within each scout something we call the spirit of scouting, which is represented by a single lit candle at a court of honor. The spirit of scouting burns brightest in scouts who speak for themselves, follow strong morals, and encourage others to do good.
Eagle Scouts are not perfect: they have the humility to recognize and correct their flaws. They respect other people’s ideas and ideologies. They help others because it makes them feel complete without expecting any reward.
Earning the Eagle rank is a monumental undertaking achieved by millions. Living a life of good-hearted kindness and citizenship - upholding the values of the Eagle badge - is only possible if someone chooses to do so.
My morals have always been worthy of my rank. The Eagle Scout Ceremony gave me the words to describe my core values.
The Eagle Scout Charge read at my Court of Honor encapsulates who I am. “Be a leader, but lead only toward the best. Lift up every task you do and every office you hold to the high level of service to God, and your fellow men to finest living.
“We have too many who use their strength and their intellect to exploit others for selfish gains. I charge you to be among those who dedicate their skills and ability to the common good.”
During the March court of honor, my voice changed while leading my friends through the call and response of the Eagle Scout Promise.
I lifted my eyes away from the script. I memorized the promise because I taped it to the inside of my bureau as a freshman at FSU and read it every morning.
Yet I know the promise by heart not because I memorized its words, but because I lived by its morals years before I knew how to recite it.
This promise does not define who I am. I define the values of this promise by living them.
I reaffirm my allegiance
To the three promises of the Scout Oath.
I thoughtfully recognize
And take upon myself
The obligations and responsibilities
Of an Eagle Scout.
On my honor I will do my best
To make my training and example,
My rank and my influence
Count strongly for better Scouting
And for better citizenship
In my troop,
In my community,
And in my contacts with other people.
To this I pledge my sacred honor.