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June 6, 1997

In these politically correct days when so many of our traditional attitudes and practices are being called into question and modified to adapt to a more "modern" view there is something very reassuring in the way the Boy Scouts of America are handling things. Boy Scouts have always stood for the characteristics that most Americans admire. Their unflinching adherence to qualities that emphasize honor, courage, character and devotion to duty is an attribute all of us should cultivate in our own lives. Certainly we should admire the Boy Scouts for the way they steadfastly perpetuate those values.

I was reminded of all this by the Court of Honor held the other day for the presentation of Eagle Scout awards to Jason Wornom and Jeff Steichen. two members of Perry's Troop 12, sponsored by the First United Methodist church. Richard Sharp is their Scoutmaster. This is the highest rank available to members of the Boy Scouts and only a relative few persevere to the conclusion in their pursuit of it. It was a solemn occasion, but it was also good fun, like most Scout events. For Jason and Jeff the Court of Honor was the culmination of years of working for higher ranks in Troop 12 and accumulating many, many merit badges along the way. The achievement of these two young men should instill a bit of pride in all of us, right along with their parents and their Scout leaders.

The troop sponsored by the Methodist church is now the only one in Perry, but at one time at least three troops existed here and all of them were active. My own experience was with Troop 15, sponsored by the First Presbyterian church. Troop 12 was going strong 'way back then, and the First Baptist church also sponsored a lively troop. Harry DeLashmutt Jr., who later became a fulltime professional Scout executive in Colorado, was the Troop 15 Scoutmaster when I earned my Tenderfoot badge. The fact that I never advanced beyond that rank was not his fault. Other interests (girls, money, grades -- the usual things) precluded further activity in Scouting for me, and I fell by the wayside without ever learning to tie a decent knot, much less start a camp fire with a piece of flint.

But I never lost my respect and admiration for those who stayed with the program and continued to advance. From today's perspective of adulthood I am even more in awe of those who climb all the way to the Eagle rank. As Jason and Jeff were advised at their Court of Honor, they will continue to be Eagle Scouts the rest of their lives. They will not say. "I was an Eagle Scout." From now on they can say Proudly. "I am an Eagle Scout.'' That will tell future employers and the world at large that they have truly accomplished something worthwhile and it will be an indication of the strength of their character.

Retired District Judge Don Powers of Chandler presented the Eagle awards at the local Court of Honor, and that was a special moment for Jason's dad, John Wornom. Judge Powers was Scoutmaster of Troop 11 in Chandler when John received his own Eagle award 27 years ago. Honorary miniature Eagle pins were presented to Jason's mother, Beverly, and to Jeff’s mother, Carol Steichen, while her husband, Dennis (also a former Scout) looked on. Grandparents of both the young men also were on hand and were recognized as part of the presentation. A large number of family members and friends attended.

All in all, the Court of Honor was handled as a class act, which is most appropriate because that's just what it is. I'm thankful the Boy Scout program continues to prepare young men for the future by stressing the old morality and the value system that most of our previous generations grew up with. Congratulations to Jason and Jeff, and thanks to their family, friends and all those associated with the Scout program for nurturing them as they begin taking their place among tomorrow's leaders.