Gates: Scouting Instills Principles, Integrity, Honor
(March 7, 2011)
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates thanks former President George W. Bush after he is introduced during the Circle Ten Council Friends of Scouting dinner in Dallas, March 3, 2011. Gates, a former Eagle Scout, gave a keynote speech. DOD photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison
DALLAS, March 4, 2011 – Recalling his own experience
as an Eagle Scout, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates
last night praised scouting for instilling
principles, integrity and honor in tomorrow's
Gates was the keynote speaker at a
Circle Ten Council Friends of Scouting dinner here.
The secretary told the audience of 1,500 that he
could fit everything he owned in the back seat of
his car when he went to Washington, D.C., at age 22
to work for the CIA. At that time, he said, earning
his Eagle Scout badge was the only thing he had done
that made him believe he could make a difference.
“It was the only thing I had done that
distinguished me from so many other high school
kids,” he said. “It was the first thing I had done
that told me I might be a little different because I
worked a little harder, was a little more
determined, a little more goal-oriented, more
persistent than others. Earning my Eagle gave me the
self-confidence to believe, for the first time in my
life, that I could achieve whatever I set my mind
Much has changed, and not all of it for the better --
especially for young people -- in the 50 years since he was
a Boy Scout, Gates said.|
“One thing, however, that
has remained the same over the years is the positive
experience of scouting on boys and young men,” he added,
“and the ability of so many of them to surprise us and
inspire us with their determination, their character, their
skills, and their moral and physical courage.”
homes and good parents produce good boys, but scouting
tempers the steel, the secretary said.
“At a time
when many American young people are turning into couch
potatoes and, too often, much worse,” Gates told the
audience, “scouting continues to challenge boys and young
men, preparing them for leadership.”
One way scouting
creates leaders, the secretary said, is by presenting new
challenges that build confidence, self-reliance and the
spirit of adventure. Another benefit, he added, is that Boy
Scouts learn the importance of service to others.
“The scouting movement shows dramatically that service --
public service -- still beckons the best among us to do
battle with complacency, neglect, ignorance and the
emptiness of the spirit that are the common enemies of
social peace and justice,” Gates said. “Adults like you who
support scouting are generously investing in our collective
future –- in [columnist] Walter Lippman's words, you are
‘planting the trees we may never get to sit under.'”
Caring beyond one's self, the secretary added, is
fundamental not only to scouting, but also to democracy and
to civilization itself.
Scouting also prepares boys
and young men to live lives based on unchanging values such
as trustworthiness, loyalty, honesty, kindness, and the
respect and dignity every person deserves, he said.
“We in scouting believe that personal virtues --
self-reliance, self-control, honor, integrity and morality
–- are absolute and timeless,” Gates said. “There are in too
many places too few people with scouting values -- people
who say, ‘On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty,' and
The secretary noted that scouting allows
adults who are leaders to teach boys to be leaders.
“In challenging boys to learn skills, to master challenges,
to strive to live up to high principles and moral values, to
find the greater beauty in a life of cheerful service, to
build strong character, scouting tempers them into strong
leaders for tomorrow,” Gates said.
George W. Bush introduced Gates to the audience. Gates'
service as defense secretary dates back to December 2006,
during Bush's administration.
By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service
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