On Presidents Day, let’s remember Gerald R. Ford, our 38th president and, at least so far, the only Eagle Scout to ascend to the most powerful post in the country.
Ford, who earned the Eagle Scout award in 1927 as a member of Troop 15 in Grand Rapids, Mich., went on to receive the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 1970.
In December 1974, while president of the U.S., Ford spoke at the Boy Scouts’ Annual Awards Dinner. That’s where he offered this gem of a quote:
It has recently been said that I am too much of a Boy Scout in the way I have conducted myself as President, and so I reviewed the Boy Scout laws and Boy Scout oath.
They say that a Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. That is not bad for somebody who knew it 46 years ago.
And the Boy Scout oath is, “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout laws, to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Well, if these are not the goals of the people of the United States, what they want their President to live up to, then I must draw this conclusion: Either you have the wrong man or I have the wrong country, and I don’t believe either is so.
When Ford died in December 2006, his family requested an honor guard of 200 Eagle Scouts. They knew how important Scouting was to the man throughout his life.
In fact, 400 Eagle Scouts — age 15 to 85 — showed up to line the road to his presidential museum in Grand Rapids.
A fitting memorial to the man who once said, “One of the proudest moments of my life came in the court of honor when I was awarded the Eagle Scout badge. I still have that badge. It is a treasured possession.”
Scouting Newsroom: Paying tribute to Distinguished Eagle Scout, President Gerald Ford