Remembering Gerald R. Ford, our only Eagle Scout president (so far)

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.”

ford-letter

Related post

Scouting Newsroom: Paying tribute to Distinguished Eagle Scout, President Gerald Ford

18 Comments

  1. Although I never was a Boy Scout, I was a Scout Leader. IN order to lead the young men who became Scouts, I had to have a firm belief in and throuroughly follow, the Boy Scout Oath and Laws. They are very much a part of me. I wish we had more Presidents who had gone through Scouting as well as some Congressmen and Senators. That would have made the morass that we see now maybe more tenable.

  2. A MICHIGAN MAN AND A MICHIGAN EAGLE SCOUT. AS I AM A MICHIGAN MAN AND A EAGLE SCOUT….. IN MY HEART AND THANK YOU FOR ALL THAT SCOUTING HAS DONE FOR ME AND FOR PRESIDENT FORD… THE BEST OF THE BEST IS AN EAGLE SCOUT…

  3. Don’t know when or if will ever have another Eagle Scout as president, All we can hope for is someone who’ll support the program as well as he did.

  4. As a mom of a new Eagle Scout, I felt honored to remember President Gerald Ford and had no idea he was an Eagle Scout. Thank you for sharing this inspiring story. No, they didn’t have the wrong man nor he the wrong country. Being called “too much of a Boy Scout” is a testimony to the ideals of Scouting.

  5. Having met the man when I was but a Girl Scout, and I was wearing my uniform, he told me and the others in the mix of Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, And Girl Scouts, to be proud of being a Scout, and to live up to what Scouting taught you. I carried that forward to all the Scouts who’s lives I have had the privilege to touch as an adult Scouter, both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Somewhere, I have his signature on my Junior Girl Scout Book. I keep it to remind me of a great man!

  6. Very proud of Pres. Ford’s strong connection to Scouting. Other Presidents were Scouts – Pres. Kennedy was a Boy Scout, and Pres. Clinton was a Cub Scout. It’s great to urge our Scouts onward to Eagle, but Eagles aren’t the only Scouts of whom we’re proud.

    • It is important to remember that only 10 of our Presidents could have been Scouts. All Presidents before Kennedy turned 18 before 1910. Half of the 10 were in Scouts (Kennedy reached Star, Clinton and Bush 43 were Cubs, Obama was the Cub equivalent in the Indonesian Scout Association when he lived there as a young boy.)

      That does mean we have a 10% Eagle rate among the possible Presidents.

  7. President Ford’s Distinguished Eagle Scout Award is proudly on display in the Hall of Presidents at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Check it out next time you’re vacationing at Disney!

  8. I was a boy scout in Michigan Troop 1129 I. Fremont. I never reached eagle. But I was greatly impacted by Boy Scouts. I also was in the National Guard at the time Ford died. I was present for his funeral as a member of a security detail that lined the path to the Ford Museum (Where the viewing was). And I have never seen such a humbling sight as all the scouts that came to say good bye to a brother.

  9. ERF was a man whose destiny was directed from above. His being an Eagle Scout was on his path to become a man of service, a man chosen by the people, a man chosen and approved to be President. Yet, he was humble in his role but proud of whom he served. We as a nation were very lucky that he served when he did, to help us heal and move forward from a dark time of the office to which he ascended. After what had happened in Watergate and following, it took the courage and strength of an Eagle scout to step up, pick up the flag and move forward. For all who knew Jerry Ford, it was a dream come true. A good man, a good father and husband and a good American who knew right from wrong, service above self and and dedication to the task at hand and to see things through. I am honored that we were brothers in the Eagle Band of Brothers.

  10. I was never awarded the Eagle badge as a Scout, but as a Scouter I have had the distinct privilege of watching many a young man receive their treasured possession. The hard work and dedication of the Eagle Scout is ever where.

    Even though you have gone home, like RBP, I think God for your service to our nation.

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