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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Achieved is the Glorious Work*


"The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here”.
I was reminded of this excerpt from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address when preparing for today’s ceremony. The achievement of earning the Eagle rank in Scouting is but one stop in a boy’s life journey, albeit a huge one, and should not be confused with the final destination.  So many tasks had to be completed, activities engaged in, skills learned, so much information absorbed and applied, all in the name of building one unique young man.  Earning the highest award in any worthwhile endeavor, whether it is an Olympic medal, a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, or the Eagle rank in Scouting, is a beautiful thing.  But it pales in importance to what happened leading up to the attainment of the rank, and perhaps more importantly, what happens next—in the hours and days, weeks, months, and years after the ceremony. 

How does the newly minted Eagle apply everything he’s learned? Young adulthood is an overwhelming experience for many. Mistakes are made—even by Eagle Scouts. How the young adult deals with adversity, pitfalls of all kinds, and temptations, speaks to how firmly rooted "Scouting's timeless values" become in the individual.  It is insufficient merely to parrot the words of the Scout oath or the 12 points of Scout law--they must be lived, deeply, as though the Scout's response to life's challenges sprang from the foundation of his existence and was not merely a thin coat of paint that sloughed off in the first storm.
There's so much to say and perhaps more that will be left unsaid in the weeks and months to come, but I'd like to hit a few salient points:
1) Your Grandpa De Kok and Grandma Brooks are smiling right now.
2) My mom--your grandmom--is back in Michigan, and very pleased. She'd be here if she was able, but look around.  To quote Governor Lang in Mr. Holland's Opus, "There is not one person in this room whose life you have not touched".
3) While the troop and its leaders did give you substantial help along the way with one thing or another, this was an individual achievement that reflects favorably on you, your troop and peers, and your family. This was your bite at the apple, Daniel, your time to shine, and you did it. Congratulations.**
*--Franz Josef Haydn, closing chorus to part 1 of The Creation, oratorio, H.21/2**, 1798.  My sincere apologies. I changed the name of this post and couldn't change the note referencing the title.  To those readers who think I'm one of those horrible ignorant Americans, well, what can I say? The computer wasn't cooperating. 

**--H. 21/2 is this work's Hoboken Catalog number. Various composers with large opuses (Bach, Mozart, Schubert, and even Peter Maxwell Davies in this century) have had fellow musicians and musicologists cataloging their works, sometimes by type of composition, other times by order of composition. The Hoboken catalog is named for Anthony von Hoboken, a 20th century musicologist who published the first edition in 1957.  You're forgiven if your first thought upon hearing "Hoboken" was either Bugs Bunny and a penguin that cries ice cube tears, or Frank Sinatra.
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