The Boy Scouts of America and the spirit of America go hand in hand.
So it makes sense that Boys' Life, the official youth magazine of the BSA, teamed up with the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation to nominate a Boy Scout for the prestigious American Spirit Award.
The award "recognizes one or more individuals who demonstrate extraordinary skill, professionalism, and a spirit of excellence in a challenging situation."
Previous recipients include the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) programs of the military services and Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger of “Miracle on the Hudson” fame.
This year, the Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation asked Boys' Life to nominate a Scout for the award. After an exhaustive search, the magazine identified four finalists, pictured above.
This is where you come in. Over the next four days, we'll introduce you to the four finalists. On Friday, after you've had a chance to consider each young man, you can vote on which Scout best embodies the spirit of the American Spirit award.
If you just can't wait, voting is open now and closes Feb. 11. The winner will be announced in March. Online voting will make up 50 percent of the evaluation process. The rest will be votes from Boys' Life editors and Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation representatives.
The recipient will be flown to Washington, D.C., to receive the American Spirit Award and participate in National Medal of Honor Day activities on March 24–25. Also, he will be featured in an issue of Boys’ Life and will serve as an ambassador for the magazine's 100th anniversary celebration this year.
Here are the finalists and when you'll meet them:
Tuesday, Jan. 11: T.J. Ellwein, a resident of Davidsonville, Md., and member of the Baltimore Area Council who logged more than 400 hours leading the cleanup and beautification of Chaplain’s Hill at Arlington National Cemetery.
Wednesday, Jan. 12: Brad Garr, a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., and member of the Grand Canyon Council who has received the William T. Hornaday Silver Medal for his conservation efforts and who has helped save a life on two separate occasions.
Thursday, Jan. 13: Jacob Netzel, a resident of Fayetteville, N.C., and member of the Occoneechee Council who raised $40,000 and constructed a memorial for fallen members of the 3rd Special Forces Group.
Friday, Jan. 14: Jack Pape, a resident of Omaha, Neb., and member of the Mid-America Council who provided first aid to Scouts injured during the tornado at Little Sioux Scout Ranch in 2008 and who gave CPR to a boy pulled from a swimming pool in 2009.
Check back here on each of those days for more information on these great young men.