Two Sets of Brothers Earn Eagle Scout Rank
BY JOHN CHAPPELL
Last year marked 100 years of the Eagle rank in American Scouting. On Saturday, twin brothers from one Southern Pines family and two brothers from another received their Eagle badges in a Court of Honor ceremony at First Baptist Church.
Elliott and Graham Leonard, along with Graham and Hunter Hawes, took their places on either side of a table bearing a dozen lit candles - one flame for each of 12 points of the Scout Law - to hear Troop 223's Assistant Scoutmaster Alan Melvin read the Eagle Charge.
"Continue that great adventure as you move forward," he told them. "All along your trail of achievement your Scout-masters have given you advice and encouragement."
He asked each to renew their promise by repeating the Scout Oath.
"On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight," they said in unison, hands raised in the three-fingered Scout Sign, each representing one point of the oath they were repeating.
The prestigious rank of Eagle Scout doesn't guarantee a young man success, but some of the most successful men in the United States have achieved that status: baseball legend Hank Aaron; billionaire businessman and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg; former U.S. President Gerald Ford; and movie director Steven Spielberg.
During Saturday's ceremony, District Chairman Jim Saunders presented the awards as the boys' mothers pinned the famous badges in turn on each of their sons. After that, all four of the new Eagle Scouts presented pins to their parents.
Members of the Marine Corps League, led by John Harding, celebrated the honor, and each boy spoke to the assembly of family, friends, well-wishers, Scouters and other Scouts.
Alone among Scouts who wear this coveted badge, those who earned it during 2012 may also wear a special Eagle patch on their uniforms. The patch commemorates the origin of the rank. The first Eagle Scout board of review was held August 1, 1912.
Both sets of brothers qualified, with twins Elliott and Graham Leonard receiving certification on their 18th birthday in October. They voted for the first time in November, and are working through applications for college.
Graham and Hunter Hawes are a little younger, but now of equal rank: all four Eagles, the highest achievement rank in Scouting. It must be earned before a boy turns 18, and the Leonard twins made it in the nick of time.
To earn the rank, a Boy Scout must pass specific tests, master certain outdoor skills, and earn 21 Merit Badges.
Each of the Scouts Saturday spoke of his path through Scouting.
"I started Scouts when I was 6 years old as a Tiger Cub," Hunter Hawes said. "Graham Hawes is my brother. I soon crossed over to Troop 223 as a Boy Scout. I never imagined what being a Scout would have on my life. For my Eagle Scout project, I built a free-standing swing for St. Joseph of the Pines. This allows residents to get some exercise outside."
Achieving Eagle rank is one of the most meaningful events in his life, he said.
"I have learned more about myself through Scouting than anything else I've ever had," Elliott Leonard said. "I've been in Scouting my entire life. I've had a good time, gone to many places. Those who've been to Philmont can sit and talk about their experiences without end. Relationships and all I've learned will never leave my memory.
"The motto, 'Be Prepared' is one. With this lesson in my memory, I am ready to meet any challenge that presents itself. Scouting made me a better person. There is just something life-changing when one walks through the woods. Through Scouting I learned to be resourceful, sometimes the hard way. As I try to live up to its principles daily, my foundation in Scouting will be my rock."
He and his brother are seniors at Pinecrest High School, looking forward to college years.
Graham Hawes, like the others, joined Cub Pack 73 at Presbyterian Church when he was 6 years old, then moved to Boy Scouting at its Troop 223.
"I didn't actually know what Scouting was about," he said. "After earning over 30 Merit Badges and going on countless campouts, I was on my way to learning. I actually started my Eagle Scout project - a kiosk along Rassie Wicker Park in Pinehurst - at the beginning of high school and finished halfway through my junior year."
He thanked his Scoutmasters, friends, family, fellow scouts and in particular his parents.
"Thank you, Mom and Dad," he said.
Contact John Chappell at (910) 783-5841 or jfchappell @gmail.com.
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