By Warren Smith
Alvin Townley was a 20-something rising star in an international consulting firm when he reconnected with a boyhood friend and their conversation turned to their youthful involvement with the Boy Scouts of America. Over a pizza, Townley’s fellow Eagle Scout, now a candidate for a Ph.D. whose politics had turned decidedly liberal, said he planned to return his Eagle award to protest the Scouts’ conservative positions regarding duty to God and homosexuality.
Townley was stunned. Though he remained proud of his accomplishment, he nonetheless started thinking. What does that Eagle award, and Scouting, really mean? Not just to him, but to America.
The fruit of that thinking became Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America’s Eagle Scouts (St. Martin’s Press, 304 pages, 2007). It is an elegant and forceful case for Scouting’s positive and unique role in the shaping of 20th century America.