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Author Topic:   Eagle Scouts Return their Medals

Posts: 1933
From: 1,981 mi East of Truth or Consequences NM
Registered: Apr 2009

posted August 04, 2012 07:25 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Node     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I read the following letters a few days ago. They are well written and profound. I returned to them to read yet again. They are from Eagle Scouts, former Eagle Scouts I should say. They are returning their awards and in doing so have enlightened me. I learned about Eagle Scouts, I also learned a bit more about what it means to have integrity.

Firstly what it means to be an Eagle Scout:

Eagle Scout may be earned by a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout who has been a Life Scout for at least six months, earns a minimum of 21 merit badges, demonstrates Scout Spirit, and demonstrates leadership in the troop, team, crew or ship. He must plan, develop, and lead a service project— the Eagle Project —that demonstrates both leadership and a commitment to duty. He must then take part in a Scoutmaster conference. After all requirements are met, he must complete an Eagle Scout board of review. He can complete the board of review after his 18th birthday as long as all other requirements are completed before his 18th birthday.[12] Venturers and Sea Scouts who attained First Class as a Boy Scout or Varsity Scout in a troop or team may continue working toward the Star, Life and Eagle Scout ranks, as well as Eagle Palms, while registered as a Venturer or Sea Scout up to their 18th birthday. Scouts with a permanent mental or physical disability may use alternate requirements based on abilities, if approved by the council. Eagle Scout may be awarded posthumously, if and only if all requirements except the board of review are completed before death. A board of review may be held and the award presented to the Scout's family. The Spirit of the Eagle Award is an honorary posthumous special recognition for any registered youth member who has died in an accident or through illness. Of the 21 merit badges, 12 are "Eagle Required". These include: First Aid, Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in the World, Communications, Personal Fitness, Environmental Science, Personal Management, Camping, Family Life, Emergency Preparedness or Lifesaving, and Swimming or Hiking or Cycling

I would like to add a page full of letters written by Eagle Scouts. You might have heard the story last week, but it certainly didn't get the front page of anything.

These Eagle Scouts count their medals as prize possessions, now why might they return them? Why might they resign from an organization that helped them become more of who they are?

Here is one eloquent example:

To Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive and the BSA National Executive Board,

As a Boy Scout I was taught that ethics are important and that when something is unethical you should stand up and say something. I was taught that it is wrong to exclude people, whether based on race, physical ability or sexual orientation. I was taught that a Boy Scout stands with those being persecuted, and not with the persecutor.

Banning openly gay scouts and leaders is not a neutral position anymore than separate but equal was a neutral policy on race. Gay scouts and leaders have the right and obligation to be true to themselves. Homosexuality is not a moral deviance, bigotry is. Parents’ rights to discuss sexuality with their children should not be extended to banning the participation of openly gay scouts anymore than Jewish religious practices require the banning of bacon on a camp out, or Christian Science religious practices require Scouts to forego first aid training.

Today I am returning my Eagle Scout medal because I do not want to be associated with the bigotry for which it now stands. I hope that one day BSA stands up for all boys. It saddens me that until that day comes any sons of mine will not participate in the Boy Scouts.

Being morally straight means standing up for equal rights and inclusion, not bigotry.


Christopher Baker, AIA, PE, MBA
Former Senior Patrol Leader of Troop 261

This is a long letter, but worth reading:

From the day I joined Troop 55, Glen Ridge NJ in November 1996, Scouting has played a major role in my life. My formative years were shaped by the Boy Scouts in powerful ways. I became a leader, because I didn’t have a choice, and because I was taught to work with others, rather than settling for being a loner. Thanks to Scouting, I became a man, something many people who are supposed to be adults have failed to do. Even nine years after I last attended meetings regularly, I can still name the Scout Laws, Oath, Motto, and Slogan off the top of my head, and still try to live my life by the ideals I learned through scouting.

Many of the greatest lessons and rites of passage in my life were a result of scouting. Through my troop, I learned to trust others, but also to question them. I learned that sometimes leading is doing what others don’t want to, and sometimes it is letting them suffer from the work they didn’t complete so they become accountable. I will never forget the work I put in as a Patrol Leader and Senior Patrol Leader, or the year I was a Den Chief and earned the Den Chief service award by basically running the den because the Den Mother didn’t have time. As a scout I learned to make leave a campsite better than I found it, and from that basic lesson, to leave the world better than I found it. My first job was aquatics counselor at Rodney Scout Reservation, and I grew more in my two summers as an Aquat than any other time in my life. Although we rarely see each other now, I trust my brothers from my troop like family, and always will. As you can imagine, very few achievements mean as much to me as earning the rank of Eagle Scout.

Despite the pride that I felt at that final Board of Review, I also felt a twinge of guilt. By the time I made Eagle, the Boy Scouts of America had already decided to ban homosexuals from membership. I rationalized my decision to remain in scouts despite my moral qualms. I reminded myself that my scoutmaster, in an incredibly courageous moment, had announced that he would never enforce the ban. I convinced myself that I had earned the rank, deserved it, and, since I was straight, was not breaking any rules be accepting it. Finally, I was unwilling to break away from my brothers in the troop. Therefore, I put my guilt aside, and allowed myself to celebrate what will always be one of my greatest achievements, rather than standing up for those who would never get to celebrate this moment, no matter how deserving they were.

As I have grown older, however, I have not been able to conveniently ignore my conscience. Boy Scouts taught me to be brave and honorable. Because I am, I cannot be a part of an organization that discriminates. There is nothing in the Scout Laws or Oath that condemns homosexuality. There is no legal justification for treating homosexuals any differently. I know that certain religions ban homosexuality, and that the law “reverent” has been used to justify BSA’s ban of homosexuals, but many religions have no problem with the queer community, and BSA has never required its members to worship the same god, so that justification should go out the window.

One of the greatest lessons I learned from my time in scouts was to work with people who were different from me, people who disagree with me. It is a skill I struggle with today, but my journey to Eagle taught me that it is a fight worth fighting, that the world is a richer place because of its diversity, and that all people can contribute something worthwhile. That is the basis of democracy. It therefore saddens me to see the organization that forced me to learn this lesson shutting its doors to people some of its leaders happen to disagree with.

It is also disturbing that an organization that stresses the importance of democracy would put bigotry ahead of that ideal. Just as a petition was delivered to BAS asking for a new vote on anti- gay policy, a secret committee chose to uphold the ban without a vote. One of the consequences of democracy is living with the results, even when we do not agree with them. I do not know how I would respond to an executive board voting to continue the ban, and apparently I will never know, because a few people would rather prevent the democratic process from happening. I do know that I now have a new reason to be disgusted with BSA.

Most importantly, it is my firm conviction that this nation’s greatest sin is discrimination against homosexuals. I know the Boy Scouts are not alone in this act, but the Boy Scouts are the organization that matters most to me. Discrimination is not a victimless crime. Based on data compiled by the FBI and the analysis of the Southern Poverty Law Center, homosexuals are more likely to be victims of violent hate crime than any other minority group in the United States. I am not saying that BSA encourages hate crimes, but by portraying homosexuals as deviant, BSA makes it easier for less stable, more violent people to justify their heinous actions. Furthermore, gay youth, the very people you have excluded, are more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Many suicide victims kill themselves because they feel ostracized.

While you have the right to limit your membership, there is blood on your hands, whether you foresaw it or not.

I do not believe that homosexuality is a sin. I do believe that discrimination is. I do believe that making a large group of young people feel less than human because of something they cannot control is a sin. I accept that I do not speak for God, and may be wrong, but even if I am wrong, Jesus Christ told us to love God and love one another. He told us “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” By excluding gay scouts, BSA leadership is failing to love a large group of people, and continues to throw stones. Whatever deity we have chosen to follow, we can agree to love each other and not kick those who are down.

I learned from the Boy Scouts to be a leader, not a follower. I learned to make tough decisions and stick with them. I have always done my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to keep myself morally straight. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I renounce all affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America. I will continue to use the lessons I learned from scouting in my life, and it saddens me that an organization that meant so much to me is now so strongly opposed to my value system, that my children will not benefit from the support system scouting gave me unless something drastic changes, but I will deal with that sadness.

I would like to thank you for the guidance you gave me as I grew, and hope to be able to rejoin your ranks some day.

To read more and and view photos of the hand written letters CLICK HERE

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Posts: 20403
From: Saturn next to Charmainec
Registered: Apr 2009

posted August 04, 2012 07:32 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Randall     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Moving to AR.

"Never mentally imagine for another that which you would not want to experience for yourself, since the mental image you send out inevitably comes back to you." Rebecca Clark

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