By Sandra WilsonJune 9, 2009
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- What do Neil Armstrong, Steven Spielberg, Robert Gates, Michael Moore, and President Gerald Ford have in common' They all achieved the highest rank of Eagle Scout in their youth while participating in Boy Scouts of America (BSA).
Only five percent of all Boy Scouts ever acquire the foremost rank of Eagle Scout, according to the Boy Scouts of America Web site- and the Schweinfurt community boasts one in those numbers.
Larry Morgan, 18, who recently graduated high school, sought to earn the rank about a year ago and began the rigorous steps to fulfill the requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills.
"My mom provided a lot of support, and, my dad, he's deployed, but he gave me ideas ... my brother stepped in to pick up the slack," Larry said, explaining how time-consuming and challenging it was to reach for the Eagle Scout rank in the midst of his senior year in high school.
"We got a (large) amount of support from the community- especially from the Isoms" who remain active in promoting the Boy Scouts of Schweinfurt, he said.
Throughout the year of work, Larry described his over-arching feelings.
"I was kind of in a state of optimistic panic. I was worried about something going wrong," he said, but everything really worked out well.
"It's been a life-altering experience for the whole family," said his mother, Amy. "I wish that more people would put (their kids) through all the way to the end" of the Boy Scout ranks.
Larry first joined the BSA at Fort Sill, Okla., when he was an 11-year-old with no idea of his future pursuits.
"I was just kind of seeing what it was like. I liked being able to go out and experience lots of things," he said.
In the course of six years, his involvement in the Boy Scouts increased as he moved with his family in the transient military life.
Twenty-one merit badges later, Larry found himself with the Boy Scout rank he sought but not before spending hours volunteering; leading a troop; and planning, developing, and carrying out a successful service project.
"I planned to throw an appreciation ceremony for the WTU Soldiers," Larry said, and he did exactly that for the Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers. The ceremony served as one of the biggest projects he completed in his trek toward the rank of Eagle Scout.
"It meant a lot for me to be able to do that for them. I felt like that was where the most difference could be made. I thought it was worth it even without the Eagle Scout, because it meant that much to me," Larry said.
An attitude like that, said his mother, is a mark of honor in her book.
"One of the things I like the most about Boy Scouts is the community service. It shapes their minds into becoming a contributing member of society," Amy said.