Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Address Upon Eagledom, Sardonic

It is strange to me that, after all these years, I might be the one behind the podium instead of the one sitting patiently in the audience waiting for this shit to be over so that I can eat some cookies. Since you now know my sentiments, and know that I might understand yours, you will know that I intend to keep this address as brief as possible while avoiding the possibility of disrespect to the establishment—the Boy Scouts of America—which has given me the opportunity to be here today.

There were, at last count, 18, I think, youth that joined Troop ### in the same year that I did. I among them stood alone in lacking the coveted Arrow of Light, and the nakedness of that particular portion of my uniform perhaps can explain my earnestness to fill up the rest of the shirt as much as possible. At first, then, you might understand that I still saw the Boy Scouts as an achievement-driven organization. When any one of you thinks of a Boy Scout, you think of these confounded uniforms, adorned with badges and bling commemorating this or that minor accomplishment, in reality achieved with less effort than we might have you believe. So you might now see that, even if my sash suggests otherwise, I do not believe it is not all about the badges.

What I am trying to say, you see, is that there is no badge to signify that a Scout has the respect of his peers, or the trust of his friends, or the compassion to help a stranger. Scouting’s foundation lies in abstract morals—duty, honor, and morality—and the attempt to concretize such virtues is ultimately futile. Our strength comes from our fluidity, our ability to adapt the universal virtues that characterize the Eagle to the individual cases of each Troop and each Scout. I cannot help but think this; I have seen my troop fragmented and unified, small and large, in blank and—yes—in blank, but it has been my troop throughout all these permutations. I would like to take this opportunity to thank those individuals who made my experience possible: my first Scoutmaster, Mr. Blank; my guide at my first Blank, Blank; Mr. Blankety-blank, who lent me a backpack; Mr. Blink, who never was unable to help; my second and third Scoutmasters, Mr. Blunk and Mr. Blonk, whose combined efforts guided my way on this path; Mr. Blank-Blank, who introduced me into the inner workings of the Order of the Arrow, and the estimable Mr. Blynk and the kind Mrs. Blounk, who tirelessly worked on behalf of the Apanuc during my time as Apanuc Chief; Mr. Blaink, always willing to pitch in for a laugh; the numerous other adults who have always worked selflessly for the Troop; my  fearless Senior Patrol Leaders; my mother and my father, and my brother, who was gracious enough to wait until I was gone to put into motion his own coup d’etat. Most of all I thank my fellow Scouts for everything they have contributed to my experience, whether that has been pointing a loaded shotgun at someone, throwing an axe at someone, pretending to be a bear, lighting Blank on fire, breaking a window at the Clubhouse, getting altitude sickness, making me carry your shit, tenting Blank, or even tenting me: thank you, and thank you. Eat some damn cookies.

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