Sunday, March 28, 2010

Eddie the Eagle

Saturday, March 27th marked one of those very special events in life that are not easily forgotten. Like an incredible road trip, or a wedding, or the birth of a child, or witnessing something of historical significance.

Here's the long and short of it - Sara's 71-year-old uncle, Ed, is a big-time scouter. He has a small collection of what I would call antique Boy Scout artifacts, such has his old gear and uniforms. In particular, he has a love for pocket knives and has published one of the foremost authoritative guides available on the subject, Official Scout Blades.

Throughout the dozen-plus years that I've known him, uncle Ed and I have talked scouting on many occasions. The conversations would typically end with Ed saying something like, "I was one merit badge short of earning my Eagle." He wasn't ever bitter; just remorseful. Ed is hardly the first person I've met that had come up a little shy of that lofty goal - only 4 in 100 scouts attain the rank - but he was the only one I knew who still lamented that fact after 53 years.

Such was the scene on this bright afternoon in early Spring when Ed and 200+ guests gathered within the diffused light of the 4H Hall at the Canby Fairgrounds. Wayne Havrelly from KGW Newschannel 8 was there:

As an adult leader, Ed's scout uniform is as decorated as you'll likely see. But no award or patch, including his sparkling new Eagle medallion I'm sure, holds more meaning than the one he doesn't wear on his shirt or sash - that of guiding 35 young men to achieve their own Eagle rank, including his two sons.

The Native Americans have given Ed his own name - Weotchwink Wapalanna - "Father of Eagles".