Green Room

A Century of Eagle Scouts

posted at 3:33 pm on August 1, 2012 by

Michael Malone, Eagle Scout and author of Four Percent: The Story of Uncommon Youth in a Century of American Life, writes about A Century of Eagle Scouts
The Eagles’ service project is the single greatest youth-service initiative in history, and one that has touched every community in America in an important way.

Out of the more than 115 million boys who have passed through the Boy Scouts of America in the last 102 years, approximately two million have become Eagle Scouts, a 2% rate that has climbed to about 4% of all scouts in recent years. Some may have excelled in outdoor challenges and troop leadership, or while earning merit badges for oceanography and entrepreneurship. Yet all have been changed by the experience of what has been come to be called “the Ph.D. of Boyhood.” And these Eagles in turn have changed the face of American culture in ways both obvious and unexpected.

Many went on to notable careers and distinguished service to the country. The list of famous Eagles over the last century includes movie and television stars, six Medal of Honor recipients, Nobel Prize winners, novelists, a number of astronauts (including most Shuttle astronauts), Tuskegee airmen and Japanese-American internees, congressmen, senators and governors, an endless number of corporate CEOs and university presidents, a U.S. president (Gerald Ford), and the first man to walk on the moon (Neil Armstrong). But there are other, perhaps less obvious, Eagles as well: sexologist Alfred Kinsley, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Washington’s disgraced ex-mayor Marion Barry.

Two summers ago, during the BSA centennial parade in Washington, D.C., the adult Eagle contingent of official marchers featured a diplomat, a journalist, military officers, a bomb-demolition expert, doctors and a department-store Santa Claus. Despite what you might think, America’s Eagles are spread across the political spectrum. They include individuals across all races (scouting was officially integrated from the start) who hold beliefs as diverse as other Americans. What they have in common is that they chose a life of achievement and assumed leadership roles at a very young age.

My son is an Eagle Scout, and has taught me the value of perseverance and being goal-oriented at a young age. It takes a (young) man of character to become an Eagle.

To all Eagle Scouts, who have served for 100 million hours of service to their communities, my heartfelt thanks.

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog.

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But there are other, perhaps less obvious, Eagles as well: sexologist Alfred Kinsley, Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard and Washington’s disgraced ex-mayor Marion Barry.

Not exactly a selling point for Eagle Scouts.

Bitter Clinger on August 1, 2012 at 3:49 PM

Not exactly a selling point for Eagle Scouts.
OTOH, Hollywood loves them!

Fausta Wertz on August 1, 2012 at 4:07 PM

To all Eagle Scouts, who have served for 100 million hours of service to their communities, my heartfelt thanks.

I would also like to thank each and everyone who was/is an Eagle Scout.

I hope they don’t go down the road the girl scouts have gone? But this is the ‘new America’ it seems?

letget on August 1, 2012 at 4:43 PM

As a proud Eagle, I’d like to say thanks for your appreciation. Your praise is humbling.

TheRabbi on August 1, 2012 at 5:05 PM

My two brothers, all my childhood friends, and myself are Eagle Scouts. I am a Boy Scout leader. The LDS church uses it as its official program for young men. It’s a great program.

thomashton on August 1, 2012 at 5:23 PM

I spent the afternoon touring the county waste burn plant with my son’s scout troop this afternoon. It is part of the Environmental Science Merit Badge.

dentalque on August 1, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Thank you for recognizing the Eagle Scouts. My dad was one.

INC on August 1, 2012 at 6:21 PM

In a couple of months, our 15 year old son will have the honor of becoming an Eagle Scout in the 100th year anniversary of Eagle Scouting. We are so proud of him. He will be giving the special recognition pin (for the person who helped him the most to become an Eagle Scout) to his dad. His dad has been there all the way though this process, even to the point of permanently damaging his feet at some scouting events.

There aren’t words to express how much help the Boy Scouts have been in helping our boy to become a young man. We also very much appreciate the Boy Scout stand for morality against the homosexual lobby.

We told our son in 6th grade (when we moved to a new town) that he must try the Boy Scouts for one year so he could meet some other boys and make new friends. He fell in love with scouting so much that he gets very upset when he has so much homework that he must miss a meeting.

sherrimae on August 1, 2012 at 8:25 PM

Go Eagle Scouts!

I am impressed that the Boy Scouts have been able so far to withstand the perils of “political correctness.” I wish the same could be said of the Girl Scouts.

I know local chapters in many places remain safe and positive venues for young girls, but there has been an alarming amount of reporting about changes for the worse at the national level. I’d like to see parents as concerned about what’s being put into their girls’ minds as they are about their boys.

J.E. Dyer on August 1, 2012 at 11:24 PM

Both of our sons are Eagle Scouts and both have worked at Scout Camp. Hubs and I both noticed how important parental support and involvement are to the success of the boy as well as his determination.

Congratulations to all the Eagles out there!

March Hare on August 2, 2012 at 8:25 AM

I was not a Boy Scout but am the very proud father of an Eagle. He got his during the 100th anniversary of scouting last year.

Go Boy Scouts!

roy_batty on August 2, 2012 at 9:47 AM

My son is an Eagle Scout, and has taught me the value of perseverance and being goal-oriented at a young age. It takes a (young) man of character to become an Eagle.


It was truly amazing to watch what he had to do in order to earn his Eagle. I could not help to compare myself at his age and who I was. There is no way I could have done it.

roy_batty on August 2, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Thank you for recognizing Eagle Scouts.

I myself am not one, but I came close. Needed three merit badges and my service project. Unfortunately, I let a lousy troop discourage me in my advancement and I lost interest. Eagle Scout is at the top of the list of the things I wish I had completed when I was younger.

When I have sons, trust me, they will each become Eagle Scouts.

Dominion on August 2, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Proud mother of an Eagle who went on to serve our country in the military, and is now busy “not building” his own business.

Mommynator on August 2, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Eagle Scout Missoula Montana

David Lynch’s four word autobio. Yes he is an Eagle Scout.

tom daschle concerned on August 2, 2012 at 9:57 PM

VastRightWingConspirator has two sons gearing up for their Eagle Scout projects right now.

Both are straight A students, active in our church, skilled athletes, and list themselves as “Conservative” on Facebook.

And, yes, we talked about their Eagle Project yesterday over a Father-Son lunch… at Chick-Fil-A, on Carmel Ranch Rd. in San Diego. 🙂

VastRightWingConspirator on August 2, 2012 at 10:30 PM

As an individual who was able to earn his Eagle, I would like to recognize some critical facilitators in the quest for said rank: The parents.

Just keeping up with the sheer logistics of keeping a boy in the Scouts long enough to earn this rank is a substantial endeavor. It should also go without saying that the character traits which give the boy the drive to make it across the finish line have to come from somewhere. As they say, the apple never falls very far from the tree.

So, to Ms Wertz (and all the other Eagle parents out there), congratulations. And a hearty thanks to my own mom and dad.

SubmarineDoc on August 2, 2012 at 11:55 PM

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