Will’s Eagle Court of Honor was held on June 15, 2008, and it worked out very nicely with the entire family being involved. Will’s sister Becky is a member of the Venture Crew with the troop (Venturing is a co-ed part of the Boy Scouts that extends to age 21), Nancy and I were seated in the front, and Harry, as a Webelos Cub Scout, was the escort for the newest Eagle Scout. Clicking on the picture to the left links to an album of photos from the ceremony, taken by Lorenzo Recine and much appreciated.

Since it was Father’s Day, it was nice to see how many adults came to the ceremony. It speaks volumes about the commitment of these guys who shepherd the Scouts. To the side of the room, pictures were set out showing Will’s Eagle Scout Project, a guest book, and a binder containing his recommendation letters (from me, several teachers, the Oxford Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Judith Palmer, his Project Mentor, Al Thayer, and congratulations letters from a number of public officials (George and Laura Bush, Senator Christopher Dodd, Representative Christoper Shays, The New York Jets, Governor Jody Rell, and Senator Barack Obama) as well as the framed citation from Governor Rell declaring William Joseph Schmitt Day. There was also a plaque that Nancy and I presented to him during the week before the ceremony.

Deacon John Hoffman, who is also one of Will’s teachers at Notre Dame High School gave the invocation. Scouts recited the Scout Oath and Law, and Nancy and I were escorted to the front of the room by the Scoutmaster, Wes Nelson, and Assistant Scoutmaster, Al Woodin. Normally, in this troop, the Scout is then escorted through the Trail to Eagle, represented by stands topped with the symbol of each rank and a candle. The Eagle candidate lights as he stops at each one after a Scout representing that rank describes that particular achievement. More…Instead of starting with “Scout”, the first stand was for the Arrow of Light, the highest recognition in the Cub Scouts and the only one whose badge is permitted to be worn on the Boy Scout uniform. Will’s brother, Harry, as a Webelos Scout, escorted Will from the back of the room and presented him with the candle from which all the others would be lit. He also recited to the audience:

The Arrow Of Light is the highest rank in Cub Scouting, and is the only badge of Cub Scouting rank that may be worn on the Boy Scout uniform.

To earn the Arrow of Light badge, a Cub Scout must earn the Webelos badge plus five additional Activity Badges from selected groups. The Webelos Scout must additionally satisfy five other requirements designed to prepare the boy for Boy Scouting.

Then he escorted Will through Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star, and Life, with similar recitations at each station. The following is from the script prepared by Will, which was derived from various scripts of his and other troops found on the internet, and adapted to reflect the Order of the Arrow (Scouting’s Honor Society):

Eagle Voice:

Remember the friends you made and the experiences you encountered as you moved along the scouting trail. Your friends and these experiences should not be forgotten. They helped you become who you are. Your teachers and leaders know the value of experience and will remember you as well.

With your Arrow of Light fixed proudly to your uniform you and many of your friends crossed the bridge into the world of Boy Scouting and accepted the challenge of the mountain before you.

We remember when you took your first step upon the trail that leads upward.  With that first step you started to grow physically, mentally, and morally.  You began to live the Scout Oath and Law.

All the while you were on the trail, we watched you study and saw you learn by doing. Your brother Scouts soon called you a Tenderfoot, and they were right, you had indeed become a Tenderfoot Scout.

Tenderfoot:

I am the Tenderfoot. My three points stand for the three points of the Scout Oath. You find me on the mariner’s compass forever pointing the way to the North Star and a safe journey in life. On my face are two stars representing truth and knowledge, a shield which is the emblem of a nation molded together in justice, and an eagle to guard the freedom of our people.

(William lights candle at Tenderfoot Station.)

Eagle Voice:

But you were not a Tenderfoot for long. You soon reached the second ledge, and there you were greeted by a large group of Second Class Scouts.

(William moves to Second Class Station.)

Second Class:

I am the Second Class. The ends of my scroll are turned up in the willing smile of the Scout. On my face is our motto…”Be Prepared”, and suspended from me is the knot tied there to remind you of the slogan of the Boy Scouts of America…”Do a Good Turn Daily”.

(William lights candle at Second Class Station.)

Eagle Voice:

Some Second Class Scouts had been there for a long time, and were content with their achievement. Others, like you, were stopping to catch their breath before continuing along the trail. You began to study more, you worked harder, and almost before you knew it, you were to another ledge, the ledge where the First Class Scouts dwell.

(William moves to First Class Station.)

First Class:

I am the First Class. I was a Tenderfoot and I laid my course by the stars of truth and knowledge and girded myself with the righteousness of justice and freedom. Then I added a smile that I might be a friend to all and bound myself together with the knot of duty to others.

(William lights candle at First Class Station.)

Eagle Voice:

There you found a tempting green meadow split by a crystal clear stream and bathed by the sun. Here you were tempted to remain. Yes, you could have remained there in comfort, but the pull of the mountain was strong. You called for others to follow and struck for the higher ground even though the trail seemed rough and the air too thin. But the cold night air and the brilliant stars of the high mountains gave you courage. We noted your progress when you became a Star Scout.

(William moves to Star Station.)

Star:

I am the Star. I can stand alone, and have learned to find my own way in the forest. Others look to me for guidance. In front of me lies a horizon of endless opportunity.

(William lights candle at Star Station.)

Eagle Voice:

You found the trail from First Class had been an optical illusion, not as difficult as it first appeared. This spurred you on, and again you moved forward towards the ridges and distant fields of snow. The trail was steeper. Now it was less worn. Fewer Scouts seemed to be headed in your direction. You looked back and saw the crowds below you. You looked up and saw only a few above you. With the same determination with which you started your climb, you continued up the trail. Soon you came to the badge of Life Scout.

(William moves to Life Station.)

Life:

I am the Life. I have shown the world that Scouting is in my heart. I have mastered knowledge of subjects that will benefit my country and my people. I am ready to reach for my wings to fly.

(William lights candle at Life Station.)

Eagle Voice:

The heart shaped badge was placed on your uniform. You will never forget the feeling in your own heart. It was the same that has been experienced by most Scouts upon reaching the ledge of Life. Now you are close to the Eagle. You will carry on. The trail became tougher, but more interesting. You stuck with the original simple principles: The Scout Oath and Law, but now they had a fuller meaning. Your understanding of them was better. Yes, we have watched your character unfold and grow stronger. We have watched your mind develop, and your wisdom increase. We have watched your leadership ability expand into a valuable asset. We have watched all these things in you, and now that you are on the threshold of your goal, we welcome you, for you have done your climbing in a true Scout-like manner, showing others the way and accepting the challenge with courage.(William is now at front of room and places candle on fireplace. He sits.)

Eagle Voice:

I am the Eagle. It has been a long, hard, but wonderful road. I have mastered my goal. With deep humility I now stand as a representative of the best that Scouting can accomplish. May I now pass on to my younger brothers, a portion of my knowledge.

The Master of Ceremonies then…

A brother from the Order of the Arrow, Scouting’s National Honor Society, is here to speak.

Allowat:

I am Allowat Sakima, the mighty Chieftain of the Paugassetts. I have led many braves to the summit of this mountain in a long journey from our camp to show them the rewards of their climb along the trail. When you began this trip as a young Cub Scout of the trail many years ago, you had this Mountaintop as your goal. You now have reached the summit, the realm of the Eagles. But before admitting you to this honored membership, we must first hear the story of your long climb along the trail. Would Brother Joseph Majoros please come forward to tell us of William’s long Journey?

In needs to be noted that Joe Majoros was also Will’s Cubmaster during his time in Pack 65. He told us early on that he looks at the Cub Scouts that join his Pack and can usually see the potential Eagle Scouts right away. Will was one of those. He described Will’s achievements in school and scouting, including his positions as Senior Patrol Leader, Patrol Leader, Quartermaster, and other positions, his recent induction to the Vigil level of the Order of the Arrow (the first Scout in the Troop to achieve Vigil level and the second overall — Joe was the first as an adult), and recent election to the position of Chief of the Order within the Council.

The Master of Ceremonies then introduced a number of speakers, including Charles McKane, the father of Dave McKane, one of our selectmen, who was involved in Scouting in Town as far back as the 1940’s, Steve McEwan, our council Scout Executive, Captain Tom Wilson, Council Vice President of Program and Associate Advisor to Paugassett Lodge of the Order of the Arrow, Al Thayer, Wills Den Leader in the Cub Scouts who was largely responsible for keeping Will in Scouting and who Will chose as his mentor for his Eagle Project, and Dave McKane, who as Selectman for the Town of Oxford presented Will with a Citation from First Selectman Mary Ann Drayton-Rogers on behalf of the town.

Scoutmaster Wes Nelson then presented the Eagle Award to Nancy and I to pin on Will. But before we did, the Voice of the Eagle interrupted and stated:

Before we present this award, in recognition of their support and of the importance of family to our organization, the candidate has requested that his grandparents do as they always have and stand behind him as he accepts the award.

That was important.

Nancy and I each attached one side of the pin to his uniform and he presented each of us with an Eagle Parent Pin, which we will wear proudly. Donald Demaine, who is an Adviser for the Order of the Arrow and a good friend of Will’s, then presented the Charge of the Eagle Scout to William Schmitt, warning him that he was now a “Marked Man” who was responsible for setting an example as an Eagle Scout. He was on the original Board of Review, was the first to congratulate him, told him how seriously he viewed the rank of Eagle, and had told us that he was honored to do so.

Will then spoke to the audience, presenting various items of recognition to all those who helped him achieve the rank, then led the Eagle’s Nest (all of the Eagles present, including a number of the current leaders) in the Eagle Scout Promise:

I reaffirm my allegiance to the three promises of the Scout Oath. I thoughtfully recognize and take upon myself the obligations and responsibilities of the rank of Eagle Scout.
On my honor, I will do my best to make my training an example of my rank and my influence count strongly and for better citizenship in my home, in my community, and in my contacts with other people.
To this I pledge my sacred Honor.

The last part of the Court of Honor in his Troop is a Gauntlet, in which all the members of the Venture Crew (including his sister Rebecca) along with the adult leaders of the Troop line up in two lines. Will passed through and each person individually saluted (which he was asked not to return) and congratulated him. At the end of the lines, Scoutmaster Wes Nelson formally introduced as the 47th Eagle Scout from Troop 65.

The plaque we presented Will with was of mahogany stained walnut, created with wood we were saving and a large brass eagle that we found on EBay. The Eagle was mounted on the upper half with the following inscribed below it:

On My Honor I Will Do My Best
William Joseph Schmitt
Eagle Scout
January 27, 2008

The date is the date of Will’s Board of Review.

The following week, after officiating at the annual Court of Honor for the other promotions within the troop, Will officially stepped down as Senior Patrol Leader, was named a Junior (Youth) Assistant Scoutmaster for the troop, and was presented with a plaque thanking him for his year and a half of service in the position.

2 Responses to “The Court of Honor”

  1. Mary Louise Sobulefsky says:

    Nice Bill…….. My congratulations to you, Nancy, Will , Becky, and Harry. What an honor! Give my best to Nancy. ML

  2. Nancy says:

    I am so happy that we could watch Will become an Eagle…it was our very first time being involved with this. You have such a lovely family!