I am an Eagle Scout

Dear Islanders,

I am an Eagle Scout. And I’m proud of that.

A cynical man once told me that scouting is just an excuse for young men to light things on fire while their dads drink beer, but that’s not true. At least it wasn’t for me.

Live by the law

Scouting planted in my soul the desire to be a better person, a better citizen, and a better father. I fall short, but I’m thankful to scouting because it set a standard that still challenges to me to be better and do more good.

The words of the Scout Law still linger in my soul. I can still effortlessly repeat the Law, drawing it from my subconscious like a lost language restored. A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

The Scout law is not the law of the jungle, nor is it the law of Wall Street. There is no part of Scouting that hoists materialism and the lust for wealth as some noble virtue. And while all young men, full of hormones and testosterone, instinctively know the power that can come from anger and aggression, scouting never relied on those primal fuels.

Value empathy

Instead, Scouting values the noble side of human nature. Scouting is vespers in the woods and strong helping hands on frail fingers—not “coffee is for closers.”

Remember, a Scout is brave. I know that what I am about to say will be offensive to many readers, including many of my dear friends. But I feel a duty to say it for the record. What President Trump did recently at the Jamboree was unacceptable. As an Eagle Scout, that Jamboree speech singed my soul.

Sacrifice, not self-importance

I was equally hurt and confused by the raucous cheering that the President received. What I saw was not the Scouting atmosphere I grew up in. Instead, it reminded me of the poor behavior I’ve seen at bawdy corporate Christmas parties I've had the unfortunate opportunity to attend over years—the stammering, the bragging of conquests, the nearly visible stench of cologne.

That type of behavior is certainly not what I see reflected in the attitudes and behavior of men and women still involved in scouting on Grand Island. These are people who take their only vacation time for the year to sleep on a hard cot and work with 12-year-olds on merit badges. They sacrifice their time and talents for these kids out of love and the spirit of service, and not because it’s a good deal for them.

Great and good

I’m hoping, desperately hoping, our President can overcome his recent troubles and help make America greater. There is no doubt many are praying for his failure. I’m not one of them.

But America is great not just because it's strong. America must also be good. And although we all fall short, we must recognize when we fail and strive for an America that is good. We need an America that is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

Highest regards,

Eagle Scout Nate McMurray