Since my article “But Will I Get My Eagle” was published in the May 1983 New Era, I have been receiving comments from all over. And whether they were offering me bouquets or brickbats, they almost all asked the same question: “Did John receive his Eagle?”
Well, believe it or not, the question is not easy to answer. John advanced to Star normally, as a result of the program of his Blazer leader and Scoutmaster, but when he was on his own to continue, he let four years pass before he earned his Life Scout progress award. This was barely six months before his 18th birthday.
The application originally prepared for review (well after his 18th birthday due to John’s involvement in school activities) had the leadership deficiency I had been concerned about, but it was augmented and submitted to the council office after John was off to college.
The local Scout council was persistent. When John came home temporarily he was pounced on, and the necessary Board of Review was held. The approved application was forwarded to National Council. John went back to college. The local council explained to National Council why the long delay in submission had occurred and confirmed that all work had been completed in time. National Council considered the evidence and authorized the awarding of the Eagle badge at an appropriate time and place and with the proper ceremony which we commonly call the “Eagle court” and which is actually a national court of honor.
So does John have his Eagle badge now? One small problem: Elder John is now engaged on another continent in a higher mission than Scout advancement. I rejoice in what he is doing, but he is obviously not here to attend a court of honor.
I was going to say that the story has a happy ending. John is an Eagle Scout, even if he does not yet have the badge. But when I think of what might have been, I am not so sure. John did not have his Eagle court and cannot attend the great Eagle Scout recognition banquet. The younger Scouts did not receive the leadership and help he could have given them had he fulfilled his leadership requirements within the Scouting program instead of outside it. The focus became whether he would get his badge rather than how he could have served others. He is making up for that now as a missionary, but only for the present and future. What he might have done earlier is now sealed. And perhaps worst of all, when people read that John is now an Eagle Scout, this might encourage future generations of Scouts and Explorers to also aim at the last minute with predictable results.
John wrote me a letter from the mission field after my article was published. He said, among other things, “The Eagle is still very important to me, but like you said, it means more when you really work for something. I worked, but not with all my heart, might, mind, and strength. If I had really stretched myself and made it more of a growing experience, it would have meant a lot more. (I did grow, of course, but not as much as I could have.)
“I would probably have gotten my Eagle four years earlier if the age limit had been 14. That’s a weakness I had, and I’ve had to work on it—so I look at this as a special growing experience. The New Era article helped me to realize more fully what a bad weakness procrastination can be.”
Robert H. Johnson
San Francisco, California
I sat down this morning with my toast and Postum and picked up the August New Era just to thumb through until I had more time. But when I came to the poetry I had to stop and read it. Then for a few minutes I laughed and cried a little. What a beautiful magazine. What beautiful people who contribute. I especially enjoyed Holly Ann Welker. What a pleasure it must be to have her for company. By the way, I’m 51 years young with two teenage daughters still at home and three sons who are married.
Las Vegas, Nevada
I would like to tell you about an experience that happened to my companion and I while we were reading the Church magazines. We had just come home for lunch and placed some rice on the stove to cook. Then we each grabbed a Church magazine and started reading. We became so involved in the reading that we forgot about lunch. It was still on the stove, burning itself black. The funny part about it was that my companion was sitting about three feet away from the stove in a smoke-filled room that smelled of burnt rice, yet he didn’t realize anything was burning for a long while. (The rice was burnt so badly that we considered throwing the pot away instead of cleaning it.)
This little incident showed us how much we can enjoy the reading of Church magazines. They are filled with choice spiritual articles that help us to grow. We would like to take this opportunity to let you know how much the New Era means to us.
Elders Mit and Goisisi
Australia Brisbane Mission
I feel that my prayers were answered. I needed some good ideas on how to get ready for my mission while I was still in high school, and my sister brought in Brother Mickel’s article “Before the Call” in the March 1982 New Era. To receive advice right from the mission presidents themselves was exactly what I needed.