Dylan Jackson, Kantrel Dickerson, Evan Garris, Anthony Comer, Isaac Owens and Christopher Dickerson, members of Troop 4027 in Sylacauga, and Jacob Smith of Munford’s Sroop 4132 are aspiring to the rank.
For more than a century the Boy Scouts of America organization has set standards for developing character, responsibility and self-reliance through a wide range of outdoor activities and educational programs. Since 1910 an estimated 110 million boys in the United States have participated in BSA programs, and of those, some two million earned the rank of Eagle.
Becoming an Eagle is no small feat. A Scout must earn at least 21 merit badges and demonstrate adherence to Scouting principles, service and leadership. It also requires completion of an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages. The National Eagle Scout Association estimates more than 100 million hours of service in communities have been completed since Eagle rank requirements were introduced in 1911.
The lessons learned through attainment of the Eagle rank can be life-changing, and many of those young men went on to greater honors and success in their adult lives. At least nine Eagle Scouts have been awarded the Medal of Honor. At least forty astronauts earned the rank, including Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. Businessmen Sam Walton, Michael Bloomberg and J.W. Marriott, Jr. earned the rank, as did President Gerald Ford and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Brayer, filmmakers Steven Spielberg and Michael Moore and a host of others.
Eagle projects must help the community and be something that will last for some time.
In Sylacauga, SAFE Community Services is getting new benches and a restored courtyard, and raised garden beds for its community garden, including two handicap-accessible beds. Indian Valley Elementary School was the recipient of improvements and additions to its playground. A flagpole at Knollwood Christian School is being relocated and improved.
Three miles of trails at Cheaha State Park were reblazed to help hikers stay on course.
Munford Elementary School special needs students recently became the beneficiaries of a new playground to help them enjoy time at school.
In 2014, some BSA troops will be changing their affiliation to a new organization called Trail Life USA, with at least one of its founders an Eagle. Political pressure over the admission of openly gay members led to a split within the BSA, and the Sylacauga troop is one of those that plan to make the change to Trail Life USA in the new year.
The legacy of scouting is honorable and admirable, and will carry on in the lives of the members and volunteers who make it all possible — especially for the young men who dedicate themselves to earning scouting’s highest rank.