Justin has been with us almost three years. He was approved as an Eagle when he visited us. In fact I don’t think Justin will ever forgive me for the evening he came to our recruiting cookout. We had a big crowd and I was nervously trying to grill hot dogs and hamburgers for the group on two small grills. Then Justin’s dad walked up and introduced Justin as an Eagle. Right away I knew I had someone I could trust to help finish the grilling. So much to Justin’s chagrin I handed him a spatula and told him to get to work. He did a good job, by the way.
He almost immediately became a leader, filling out a term as program vice president for one of our departing crew members. He was elected to that position and went on to serve twice as president. No one ever had any confusion as to who was in charge while Justin was president. His sense of command was remarkable as was his level of participation. If Justin wasn’t at a meeting or activity I knew something serious had happened. He participated in almost every service project we’ve had during his tenure. Just a few weeks ago the church asked us to supply some folks for yard work one Saturday morning. He is a graduating senior, an Eagle, a past president. He had other things he could have done with his Saturday morning. But he came anyway. And not only came but used his knowledge and skills to help the adults figure out how to unearth some buried timbers. And his leadership will continue until the days he leaves us. He currently is serving as chaplain’s aide and he is one of the officers for our adventure in July to the Florida Keys.
Of course, everyone knows how smart Justin is and if you don’t know he’ll show you one of the 1,000 SAT test scores he has to prove it. But Justin also has added a sense of humor to the crew that is unique. His wit is very sharp and just about everyone in the crew at one time or another has gotten poked with it. While we all have teased Justin at one time or another – Mrs. Gibson has raised this to an art form – we will all miss him dearly when he leaves for Clemson this summer. He not only has been a great leader but he made this crew fun.
When it came time to name Justin, again there were many possibilities but really only one name fits. I used to always tell Justin when his wit went awry to set the example. He was president and others followed his lead. So if he acted up, they would too. He had just finished his term of office when I told him again to set the example. Justin smiled and said, I don’t have to anymore, I’m not president. I smiled back. But you still are an Eagle. And that silenced him.
Because once you become an Eagle you are committed for the rest of your life to serve others and to act with integrity and honor. It’s very much like a knighthood. Your duty and responsibility begin when you are awarded Eagle, they don’t end. Eagle is the highest rank in Scouting and only a small percentage of the boys who start in Scouting ever attain it. The eagle is not only a symbol of leadership in Scouting, it’s been one for hundreds of years in this nation and also for American Indians. They revered eagles so much that chiefs always wore eagle feathers as signs of their leadership. I’ve been a Scout leader for 16 years and I can often look at young men and see if they have the stuff of Eagles. Justin’s service with us has brought honor to that rank. So it is with great pride that tonight I award you the Sioux name Wamblee, which means Eagle. Congratulations!