Eagle: Michael Perrotta
Eagle Court of Honor
June 6, 2004
Onions and Eagle Scouts
First, let me congratulate Mike and his parents on a job well done. I used to be amazed when a young man in my troop earned Eagle. Everyone knows how few actually earn it, and yet, once again, here we are, recognizing another one for his supreme efforts.
When Mike had his Eagle Board of Review, they asked him a question that may have surprised him. The question was “What would he tell future Eagle Scouts about earning Eagle?” His answer, I imagine, surprised the Eagle Board. “Don’t worry about it”, he said. It’s not that hard.” Not hard? If so few earn the rank of Eagle across the nation, how can it not be hard? I began to think “Are we too easy in this District? Is troop 20 turning into an Eagle factory, with its sole focus on obtaining Eagle?” My answer to these questions is a resounding “No!”
The purpose of the requirements of all ranks in the B.S.A is not to teach skills. These skills, though nice to know, have nothing really to do with why they are required: nothing to do with the real purpose of the Boy Scouts of America. Our purpose is to help develop young men into men of great character, determination, dedication and loyalty. The type of men that lead, that give of them selves willingly, and that are prepared to do anything for their fellow man.
Mike’s nickname in the troop is Ogre. I always wondered how he came by it, but I never asked. I call him Shrek, though, and I have a reason. First, it fits in with his nickname. However, I looked at it differently. I am sure that most if not all of you have seen the movie Shrek. In that movie, Shrek tries to explain to Donkey that ogres are like onions; they have many layers. Eagle Scouts, whether future Eagle Scouts or ones that have been awarded the magical pin are also like onions.
They have a layer of toughness to get them through the hard times. They have a layer of compassion for nature and their fellow man. They have a layer of determination to complete their task, regardless of the difficulty. They have a layer of humor, to see the laughter and joy in all things. These layers go on. The older the onion, the more layers it has. Put these layers all together, and you get a vegetable that can sweeten soup, make a bland meal tastier, add color as a garnish, or make you cry like a baby. If they seem to go bad, or get soft, all that needs to be done is to plant them in good soil, and they will not only come back to life, but they will produce more of themselves. The same goes for Eagle Scouts.
Troop 20 has an amazing record of Eagle Scouts achieved. I have often said that it has nothing to do with the Scoutmaster. I used to believe that we were successful because of the outstanding Assistant Scoutmasters, Committee and Junior Assistant Scoutmasters that we have. I also thought that it was because of the tremendous program that we offer, supported by the parents. I still think that those things are very important, but I think that there is much more here.
I believe that every boy that joins this troop is an Eagle Scout. Some get the pin, some do not, but they all understand what is involved in being an Eagle. I believe that we are successful in helping the young men receive the pin for one reason. We have succeeded in taking several old, soft onions and planted them in good program, and they have continued to reproduce. I am talking about all of the leaders in the troop; not just the ones that you see here today, but the future ones as well. They seem to just keep replanting themselves in the program, and from them come new ideas, new programs, and new Eagle Scouts.
Because of that, I understand why Mike could say earning Eagle is nothing to worry about; it is easy. First, Mike developed the character and leadership skills that will make America proud. Second, being an ogre, he understood the layer concept before I did, and finally, third he understood what happens when an old onion is re-planted. It just continues to grow and produce more.