Mike Walton (blackeagle)

Marked Men
By: Posted On: 2020-04-16

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Walton family archive

Do you want to be "known"? Do you want a lover? You want people to see you on the street and know who you are??

You don't need to shoot, maim, nor kill anyone. You don't need to go onto Facebook or Snapchat, Twitter, or any other social medium and belittle someone or call someone out. You don't need to wreck your or your parent's vehicle, van, or truck. You don't need to steal or rob someone's money or other personal possession. You don't need to place yourself into a coma by taking "mass quantities" of some liquor or bottles of pills.  Do you want to know how to be "famous"?

Become an Eagle Scout.  It's as simple as that. Two and a half years of being around other young men. Camping.  Hiking. Swimming. Learning and applying knowledge about our nation, your community, and those in it.  Doing something to benefit someone else -- with no reward other than the smiles on their faces and maybe a cut finger or two.

Why do you think that so many parents almost force their sons into Boy Scouting -- and spend time, money and personal energies ensuring that their son gets the most from the Scouting experience -- and when they don't, they are ready to "call out" the adults and in some cases the youth leaders?

You can link back anything positive, anything good about someone who died or someone still living. The chances are that most of the guys are:

- Eagle Scouts; or

- a friend of or influenced by someone who's an Eagle Scout 

I became a "marked man" -- not a "made" man, but a "marked" on the evening of the 5th of November forty years ago this fall. From that time onward, people knew me not as a "troublemaker," another one of "those boys" ganging up around the neighborhood, nor as a "kid." I had a TITLE -- "Eagle Scout" -- and a rep to live up to as a result. I had to "help other people at all times." I had to "be as strong as I could be." I had to be proud of who I am, where I live, and what nation I belong to.  

I had to love my Savior. I had to put into practice every day -- especially after the world knew I am an Eagle Scout -- all of those things I learned in Scouting.  There was always SOMEONE watching me, observing me, wanting to pattern their behavior after mine.

The difference was in that $11.50 silver-plated medal, a cloth badge on my left pocket, a small lapel pin for my suits, and that card. I swear to you -- if you're thinking about harming someone because you feel you're not loved; you feel that you have to "go Jihad" on the rest of us because you're not understood; you feel that the only way you can get any sort of attention is by doing someone wrong -- I invite, no, I INSIST that you give Scouting a good chance and see how much good stuff happens to you because you became an Eagle Scout!!

Now, I have to warn you that the trail toward Eagle is NOT an easy one. Nothing good and worthwhile comes your way without some work. Becoming an Eagle Scout I.S. hard work -- harder if you do it all yourself as it's engineered to be done.

( I can say some of this stuff now that both my parents are in Heaven; I know that they know this, however, so I have no reason to withhold this from you.)

Marlene, the daughter of a Master Sergeant, started in on her plan. She started to sit in front of me, behind me, and over time beside me during the 45-minute ride to the housing area we both lived in. She waited for me to get onto the bus in the afternoons before getting on.  She was constantly asking, "what was I doing after school," "over the weekend" and "over the holidays." 

That Valentine's Day Saturday at a home she was babysitting at was the day.

Keep in mind: I didn't have to cuss or call her names; I didn't have to beat anyone up in her presence, nor did I have to brandish a weapon and show "I'm a man" to her. All I had going for myself was my own personality -- one who loved Kojak and Magnum P.I., cartoons on Saturday mornings and being outdoors.

And that Eagle Scout invisible "mark." That's what did it.

"So," you're saying, "some gal had her way with you...big freakin' deal". Here's a better example. 

Ask any of my teachers -- or look at my report card -- I was NOT an "A" student and barely was a "B" one. More like "C." I almost did not graduate from high school because I was a credit and a quarter short, so I went to summer school my Junior year to catch up.  So I went to Billy Bob U -- Eastern Kentucky University -- and got accepted provisionally (a different story about how I got there...) I wasn't planning on going there, and all of my scholarship money (yeah, I got some because of that...Eagle Scout thing but back then, you could get money for being left-handed or having only nine toes or any other number of "special categories") was at another school. After dancing around with the intake person, I had to plead my case to the admissions director.

I showed this woman my Eagle Scout card, placed it on her desk and told her "I will be a good student here... I won't promise you that I'll be a great one, but I'll do my best to be a good student. This card says so."

This woman looked at my card. She picked it up and read both sides. She looked at my half-hearted grades on my transcript. She read through the essay I wrote, explaining how I got to the front door of EKU in the first place.  Mrs. Roake looked up at me, extended her hand, and said, "Eagle Scouts are always welcome here, Mike..." and after we shook hands, she gave me back all of my papers and then wrote a school check to me for a thousand dollars.

I never held a check for that much money in my life. If it were today, I would have had to do a "selfie" with me holding it. Mrs. Roake explained that I need to take that to the Registrar cage downstairs, have them cash it, and apply it to your fees; they will give me a voucher to take over to the bookstore where I could purchase the books for my first college classes. All because I had a card which said "Eagle Scout."

It did not end there. I don't know how many speeding or parking tickets which became "warnings" or just literally torn up by the person issuing it to me over the years since -- all because next to my driver's license is that sixty-five cent cardboard card (which since has become laminated) attesting to the fact that I'm a "marked man." One officer actually lied to my parents that I was in his custody and, therefore, could not contact them before curfew. He saved me a beating, and it was all because I'm an Eagle Scout.

I could keep going and going. The truth is that I have a LOT of stories like this to share -- but I think by now you've gotten the point. You want to make something of yourself, you say -- you want people to respect you, to honor you, to make them proud of knowing you.  It is really rather easy and does not involve you harming or endangering anyone else. Nor does it involve you tossing back your American citizenship and your racial or ethnic heritage. It doesn't even take you being someone you're really not -- "fronting" so that people will think you're tough, that you got "balls" -

The most common letter I get in my email box daily goes like this:

"I am so proud of the men who make it to Eagle Scout as a child. How can my child become one of those? Is there a special set of classes he needs to take in Scouts to become one? How much money does it take to become an Eagle Scout? My son is (insert color hue here), and I don't see anyone his color around here who's an Eagle Scout -- can he become one too, or is it just for White boys or boys whose families have lots of money? In short -- I want my son to become an Eagle Scout too -- how do we go about it?"

My stock response: 

"I, too, am proud of those men who have earned Eagle. No matter what walk of life, what overall goals they may have, they are all "marked men" and have proven their value to the nation, their communities, their faiths, and their families and friends. There are no special classes nor special studies your son needs to participate in -- he simply needs to be a member of the BSA for two and a half years and earn the six advancement steps before Eagle. It takes as much money as it would for him to participate in school or community athletics or actively take up an art study, and much of it depends on your son's personal ambitions. You would spend more money, for instance, if your son desired to become a college-bound student-athlete or a concert performer. Same with Scouting...you can spend a little or a lot...that is not which get your son to Eagle.

I am a Black/African-American man, the son of an Army enlisted Soldier and a beautician, both careers with relatively small incomes. There are lots of us who became Eagle Scouts as well as those from other racial or ethnic groups. We are out there, but we all share something in common -- we don't really wave a flag or wear a token as a demonstration that we are Eagles. My parents could not afford to take or send me to a lot of Scouting things -- so I had to raise my own money, wash a lot of cars, flip a lot of pancakes, sell a lot of "trinkets" and take the bus instead of the plane or train to get to and back from some places. 

Most of all, in Scouting, I learned how to be a follower and then a team member and then a team leader to became Eagle. I will be happy to help you find a Boy Scouting unit nearby so that your son can eventually become what I am proud to say to you: an Eagle Scout. "

No angry words. No destruction of property, people, or possessions.  Become an Eagle Scout, friend, and the world is literally yours. More importantly, you will realize the importance of those in this world, their interaction with you, and the value of life, liberty, and the pursuit of true happiness.

(Oh...if you can't become an Eagle Scout, it does not mean that your life will come to an end! There are more than plenty of Life Scouts and those others out here who joined Scouting, got some benefit from it, and decided to do something else with their lives. Like start car companies, became sports legends, star in television shows, develop software, or become President of the United States. The common thing is they became famous in a good, positive manner, through Scouting.)

As the Pope stated several times to people during his American visit: "I will pray for you...you, please pray for me."

Do you want to be a "marked man"? Become an Eagle Scout.



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