This is the voice of the Eagle – the Eagle whose heights you have struggled to reach. I remember when you came to the base of the cliff, and how you looked up with ambition and determination. Look back at the experiences you have encountered in your ascent. These experiences should not be forgotten. You should profit by making sure the adverse ones do not occur again. Experience is a valuable teacher if you heed its teachings.
Do you remember when you took your first step on the Eagle trail? With those first steps you began to build yourself physically, mentally, and morally. You started living the Scout Oath and law. Soon you learned the symbolism inherent in the Scout badge; you learned that there are three points of the trefoil which stand for the three parts of the Scout Oath: Duty to God and country, duty to other people, and duty to yourself. You learned of two important ideals in scouting, truth and knowledge. These are symbolized by two stars on either side of the badge. These stars are like those of the great outdoors which you have enjoyed on hikes and campouts. In adding the Eagle to the shield of the United States you are further reminded of your duty to country. You pledge to support and preserve its freedom. Pointing skyward is the sign of the north. Taken from the mariner’s compass, it is a reminder of your duty to God and your obligation to respect the religious convictions of others.
From here the trail led through basic outdoor skills to the Second Class rank. This badge, with the corners of the scroll turned up in a scout smile admonished you to Be Prepared. The overhand knot reminds you of your daily good turn.
At this point on the trail, some stop to catch their breath before continuing. But you began to study more and work harder. Almost before you knew it you became a First Class scout. The badge you received is a combination of both Tenderfoot and Second Class, reminding that there is much more to being a scout than just attending meetings. Here you were tempted to remain, but your ambition stirred you on. The variety of merit badges gave your interest free reign. You took the lead showing others the way. It didn’t take long before the first obstacle on the trail had been overcome. You were then a Star Scout. The life rank was reached more slowly. The trail had become steeper and merit badges harder. Fewer scouts seemed headed in your direction. You looked back and saw the crowds behind you. You looked up and saw the few above and with the same determination with which you had started your climb, you continued up the trail. You learned that leadership was leading, not driving or pushing. Example is best.
The life rank is symbolized by a heart with the First Class badge, the badge of scouting imposed thereon. At this point the trail became tougher, but also more interesting. The original principals, the Scout Oath and Law now had fuller meaning. Your understanding of them was much greater. As a result, your character unfolded; you became more of a man. Your leadership ability expanded into a valuable asset. Your mind developed and your wisdom increased.
Now you stand at the top of the mountain. It is not the end of the trail nor the beginning. Almost your whole life lies ahead of you. Your part in our country’s upbuilding from the past may be small, and your claim to distinction and honor may rest on no basis at all. But the future is for your own choosing. From your action the judgment must come. The need of your service to your country is greater than all you have previously done. When the drama is finally ended and the curtain is lowered at last, you must rest on the things you have accomplished, not the dreams of the past.