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Former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley was the guest speaker at the American Values Dinner for the Cheaha District of the Boy Scouts of America Saturday.
Four Eagle Scouts presented awards to four honorees at the American Values Dinner for the Cheaha District of the Boy Scouts of America Saturday.
“When I think back about what I learned growing up, everything I needed to know I learned from two things: Scouting and Sunday School,” said former Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, guest speaker for the dinner held at Shocco Springs Baptist Conference Center in Talladega.
Riley said the four Eagle Scouts, Cal Riley, Kyle Hallman, Robert McNatt and Spencer Loveless, all from Troop #4342 chartered by Ashland First United Methodist church, are what America is about.
“As long as you have people like these young Eagle Scouts, people to lead with service, duty and honor, the future of America is in good hands,” he said.
Each of the Eagle Scouts presented the Heart of an Eagle award to four honorees: Jesse Cleveland, Jimmy Allen, the late Brian Townsend and surprise honoree Becky Griffin.
The honorees spoke about what Scouting meant to them and their families.
“I can’t improve on what’s been said about Scouting,” Riley said. “I want to thank the scout masters and leaders because it takes a lot of time (to volunteer). I can remember what my scout master said. I remember what my Sunday School teachers said and what I learned around a campfire. We learn a lot from our parents, but as an adolescent, the ability to talk to an adult and find out what is important and what is not—sometimes we take more legitimacy from a person not our parents.”
Riley said while driving to the event his wife, Patsy, reminded him her father, John Mackey Adams, was the first Eagle Scout in Clay County 102.
“I wasn’t an Eagle Scout,” he said. “My wife asked me why I didn’t finish, and I said that year I got my driver’s license and met you.”
Riley said he graduated from college early and served as a college recruiter for two years. While at a recruiting event, he asked a veteran recruiter what to do since he had 400 applications for four jobs.
“’I take all the applications and put all the Eagle Scouts in one pile,’ the recruiter told me,” Riley said. “The recruiter said he then interviewed each Eagle Scout and asked if they had a pocket knife.”
Riley said Scouting is not something you can learn from a computer.
“You learn how to set up a tent, build a fire, assimilate with others in a small tent,” he said. “That is the reason it is so vitally important to continue to support it. There are a lot of wonderful charities who need money, but when you go to write a check think about the direction our country is going in. If this country could once again live up to the Scout Oath, it would solve myriad problems.”
The Scout Oath states, “On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
Riley said the Scout Law is also important, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
“The men who signed the Declaration of Independence wrote, ‘We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor,’” Riley said. “You don’t see many organizations talking about honor or ‘I’ll do my best’ or ‘do my duty.’ And we have a duty—a duty to our God and a duty to our country. If we encapsulate those two things and bring them back to mainstream discussion, it could change to world and so many lives.”
Riley said we live in a “winner-takes-all” society, but individuals can choose to believe in helping other people at all times.
“When you live in a small town, you know your neighbors,” he said. “We understand how to help others, but much of that is lost today—to help other people because it is the right thing to do.”
Riley said the Scout Oath to keep “physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight” is a recipe for success.
“There are very few organizations that encapsulate all the attributes that make America great,” he said. “No matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican, a conservative or a liberal—you must decide how firmly you will stand for these values. If you do, the future of America is in good hands.”
Contact Elsie Hodnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.