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Chicago Eagle Scout to receive Honor Medal for heroism during shooting

lawrence-sellersA Scout is brave, but what Lawrence D. Sellers did on Jan. 29, 2013, was something beyond bravery.

The Chicago Area Council Eagle Scout was shot in the leg while shielding a friend from gunfire during the Harsh Park attack that killed Hadiya Pendleton.

Pendleton’s death, which happened a mile from President Barack Obama’s South Side home, has become a national symbol of Chicago’s gang violence, which has spiked in recent years.

On Sunday, the Chicago Area Council will present Lawrence with the Honor Medal, given for “unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self.”

Since 1923, fewer than 2,500 Honor Medals have been awarded. That’s a rate of about 28 a year, meaning Lawrence is in rare company.

We’re very proud of Lawrence, as should be our entire national organization,” Chicago Area Council Commissioner Lou Sandoval wrote in an email to me this week. “Lawrence’s story needs to be told in hopes that it will inspire other youth in Chicago to seek an alternative path in life.”

Lawrence’s own life path has been one shaped positively by Scouting. His two older brothers are Eagle Scouts, his father was a Scoutmaster, and his mother and sister were involved in Girl Scouts. Lawrence says he can only imagine the impact if more of his Chicago-area peers were involved in Scouting.

“If most of the children that are out there now were in Scouting, they would know right from wrong better than they do now,” he said.

That’s true across the country (and around the world, really), but it’s especially relevant in Chicago, where the homicide rate was down in 2013 but still is much higher than comparably large cities.

Growing Scouting’s numbers in the Windy City would mean kids joining Cub Scout dens or Boy Scout patrols instead of joining gangs. And that would be a win for everyone.

Meanwhile, Lawrence’s leg wound has made a full recovery, allowing him to focus on selecting which college he’ll attend to pursue a degree in education and become a math teacher. I think I speak for the Scouting family by wishing him the best of luck. Lawrence has a bright future ahead and will make a great Scoutmaster some day.

The original news release follows:

CHICAGO EAGLE SCOUT TO RECEIVE HONOR MEDAL FOR HIS HEROIC ACTIONS

Chicago, IL (February 17, 2014) — The Boy Scouts of America will award Eagle Scout Lawrence D. Sellers with the Honor Medal later this week. Sellers will be recognized for selflessly shielding a friend from gunfire in Chicago’s Harsh Park last year where he received non-life-threatening wounds. Sellers was shot in the leg during the attack that killed his King College Prep classmate, Hadiya Pendleton, who has become a national symbol of Chicago’s violence.

“We are very proud of Lawrence,” said Council Commissioner Lou Sandoval. “His actions represent one of the many ways that Scouting impacts the many young men and women who participate: servant leadership.”

Sellers maintains a humble perspective on his heroic actions. He credits his instinct and upbringing. “I did what I needed to do,” Sellers said. “I didn’t think I would receive an award, but I’m honored.”

Sellers grew up in a Scouting family. His two older brothers both became Eagle Scouts, the highest rank in Boy Scouts; his father was a Scoutmaster; and his mother and sister were involved in Girl Scouts. When asked what might be possible if more of Chicago’s youth were involved in Scouting, Sellers said: “If most of the children that are out there now were in Scouting, they would know right from wrong better than they do now.”

Chicago has been challenged with a spike in gang violence over the past few years. The 104-year-old Scouting movement has been working behind the scenes with proven results in the development of character and core leadership skills. When Sellers was asked what he envisions as a solution for youth violence, he responded: “I don’t think there’s a simple solution, not simple enough for me to come up with, at least.”

Sellers’ leg wound has healed and he is now focused on selecting a college where he will work toward a degree in education so he can become a math teacher.

The Boy Scouts will present Sellers with the Honor Medal on Sunday, February 23, 2014 at the Chicago Area Council Annual Dinner.

The Honor Medal recognizes individuals who have demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self.  The award has been given to 2,354 people since it’s inception in 1923.

Chicago Area Council, Boy Scouts of America serves thousands of youth across Chicagoland through traditional Scouting programs, Learning for Life and Exploring. The principal purpose of all Chicago Area Council programs is to instill positive values and prepare youth for life. To learn more, visit www.chicagobsa.org.


Thanks to Lou Sandoval, Council Commissioner for Chicago Area Council, for the story tip. Skyline photo from Flickr: Some rights reserved by Josh*m

19 Comments on Chicago Eagle Scout to receive Honor Medal for heroism during shooting

  1. Bryan Is there a scholarship fund being set up for this great Scout? Thanks, Glenn

  2. Two comments: one from our first Chief Scout Executive; the other from a pretty smart guy with a good website:

    “The important thing is to keep forever the Good Turn idea in all of your own thinking and planning, giving it definite place and time. Otherwise it will soon drift into a mere superficiality and do more harm than good. Avoid any reward for Good Turns. Say to your boys:

    “Just do something to help the other fellow, and the joy of the service well done will be its own reward.” ”
    — Rick Seymour, The Inquiry Net (http://www.inquiry.net)

    “While Scouts should not be expected to ‘parade’ their services, it would be helpful if Scout Leaders, parents, and others would encourage boys in the doing of Good Turns, and recognize the difference between normal household and other chores, and actual Good Turns. Selfishness is almost a universal evil. Certainly it is overcome by the Scout Program, which is based upon the development of service for others, and the Daily Good Turn is an important factor in the development of a habit of service and attitude of mind which offset a tendency to selfishness.”

    — James E. West (BSA Chief Scout Executive), 1928

    Congrats and GREAT GOING, Eagle Scout Sellers!

  3. This is one award I hate to see but Admire this young Mans conviction to save others before himself Congradulations and be well.

  4. Why did it take over a year to recognize this fine young man???

    • Hi Danny,

      Good question. His recognition came immediately within the council and his community, but the process for awarding Lifesaving and Meritorious Action Awards does take some time.

  5. I disagree with the line “We’re very proud of Lawrence, as should be our entire national organization,” National organization !!! Our entire country could learn a lot from this man.
    I’m not ashamed to say that I am 60 years old and that Mr. Sellers could teach me a lot. May God look over him throughout his life. He has a very bright future ahead of him. Our country and our city are very lucky to have him.

  6. Excellent and well-deserved. Leaves me pondering why this was not awarded with crossed palms…

    • I agree well deserved and where are the Crossed-Palms ??

  7. Great selfless act Lawrence. Hopefully you are an inspiration to others in your neighborhood and beyond!

  8. Even though we teach the boys to do a good turn daily with out thought of reward or recognition. I think it is important to show this honor to those who go above and beyond the call of duty. This man risked his life and was injured in doing so. Amazing chatterer and it is good that I can let my son read this article and understand that this is what is all about. Making yourself available.

  9. John A.Kingston Sr // February 20, 2014 at 9:29 am // Reply

    I agree with Mr. Scoma’s comment that the country needs to hear more about this young man and others like him as inspiration to other youth. The national media need to play a role in reporting uplifting stories like this rather than the norm. Congratulations to Lawrence and his supportive family!

  10. Scott Hoffmann // February 21, 2014 at 10:49 am // Reply

    There is a great deal of difference between saving someone from harm and putting oneself in harm’s way to save another.
    This brings the words “Do My Duty” to a much higher level.
    Congratulations to this young man! Congratulations to his family!

  11. Just want to say that this young man deserves the highest praise and honor possible. Lawrence brings forth the true meaning and spirit of Scouting. My best wishes to this promising young man and his family.
    Dan

  12. Everett Browder
    I have nothing but the utmost respect a man who will put himself before others to do what is right. I am the proud father of an Honor Medal when he was a Webelos in 1984. You are a very brave man and i feel you will go far, You are a proud example of Boy Scouts of America’s Scout Oath

  13. “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

    You are a truly outstanding Eagle Scout and young man! Thank you for your good deed!

  14. Mike Clinch // June 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm // Reply

    If I were the BSA, I’d consider upgrading it to the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms. There’s a more recent story about a Navy Captain, Eagle Scout and Scouter who received the “crossed palms” for a rescue during the Navy Yard shooting. The Captain certainly qualifies, as he risked getting shot by the shooter. How much more honorable is it that young Lawrence had to face the shooter in his heroic act, and actually got wounded.

    • Steven Belz // June 17, 2014 at 5:21 pm // Reply

      This. Exactly.

      And this young man did so without the benefit of military training.

  15. They give out an average of 28 of these per year since 1923 has to be a clue.

  16. Its great the design does not conflict with the military version to say the least

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