I've taken so many lunch breaks, parked at the edge of an airport with a sandwich and bag of chips, knowing the exact schedule for arriving and departing flights. I’d watch jets accelerate down the runway, inexplicably overcome gravity, and thunder into the distance. Then, a few minutes later, I’d crane my neck skyward as a different aircraft glided back toward Earth like a graceful bird. I’ve always appreciated the wonder of flight.
I recall a writing assignment from my middle school days. We were asked to choose an animal we’d like to become and explain why. I knew what I’d select straightaway. It’s the same animal I’d choose today. An eagle. Being able to fly high above the ground and see things from a different perspective is the same reason I enjoy being seated in an airplane as it floats above an ever changing landscape below me. But it wasn’t until this past weekend that I truly appreciated what it means to fly, and my feet were firmly planted on the ground the entire time.
It was eleven years ago when my son visited a Cub Scout recruitment night at the local elementary school. The idea of earning beads, checking off requirements, and wearing a uniform at weekly meetings was all enticing. But it was what he saw shortly thereafter that lit a fire inside him that is still ablaze. He witnessed an Eagle Scout, with his special medal and neckerchief, alongside all the merit badges sewed on his sash. I’m going to be an Eagle one day. Those were his words, an audible promise shared with so much conviction. Even though he was only a seven-year-old, it was hard to deny the inevitable course that would lead him to the present day.
Becoming an Eagle Scout is a monumental accomplishment. Only 2% of all Scouts ever earn the rank of Eagle. It’s an arduous journey that requires unyielding patience and persistence. And as I shared with the audience at my son’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony this past weekend, I am so proud of what he has accomplished. But even more so, I’m incredibly proud of the young man he’s become along the way.
Once an Eagle, always an Eagle. As my son prepares to venture off to college and embrace the grand adventure which awaits him just over the horizon, I have an ever growing appreciation for what it means to take flight. And it reminds me how wonderfully inspiring that new perspective on the past, present, and future can be.
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