Of all the achievements in my life I consider becoming an Eagle Scout as the most important because it set the stage for everything else that would follow. It taught me to complete what I start, no matter how difficult the task.
Scouts can certainly understand that becoming an Eagle Scout, Scouting's highest award, is not easy to do. It would be easy to quit not only because the task is difficult but because it comes at a time in a young man's life when he is being overtaken by fumes..... Car fumes and per-fumes. In other words, he is beginning to develop other interests.
It doesn't matter whether you're in scouting in the small town of McCook, where I grew up, or in much larger cities; life is changing. It makes completing the requirements to earn the Eagle a real challenge.
Because it is such a challenge only two percent of all new scouts go onto become Eagle Scouts.
Given the odds, it's not only a major achievement for the scouts; it's also quite an accomplishment for their parents and their scoutmasters to keep the kids focused and working on their projects.
I thought about my Eagle Scout experience this month in Washington, DC when the U.S. Senate welcomed another Eagle as a member.
Newly elected Senator Pat Toomey from Pennsylvania is the 11th Eagle Scout, out of a total of 100 U.S. Senators, to serve in the Senate this year. Others in this bipartisan group of Eagle Scout senators include: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Mike Crapo of Idaho, Mike Enzi of Wyoming, Richard Lugar of Indiana, Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon.
Leaders of all kinds around the country are Eagle Scouts including past presidents, actors, astronauts, athletes and military officials.
Eagle Scouts learn how to set goals, solve problems, be self-starters, never give up, and become active members in their communities.
As an Eagle Scout, I know what an immensely valuable organization the Boy Scouts of America is to both the state of Nebraska and to the country as a whole.
Their continued emphasis on civic engagement, self-reliance, and strong character has certainly shaped my life for the better, and it is my hope that the Boy Scouts of America are around for many years to come so that they may teach these same lessons to our future generations.