Bob Sylvia has an "Eagle Room" in his East Falmouth home, filled with memorabilia of the eagles he has encountered in his life. "Uncle Bob," as he is widely known, is not a birder, though, he is a leader and the eagles he has encountered are young men he has guided and led to the highest rank in scouting, that of Eagle Scout. In that Eagle Room, there is a picture of Jesus carrying an injured lamb on his shoulders, given to Bob by a young man whom he carried through a difficult time in his life.
The young man had recently lost his Dad and had quit scouting. In fact, he had lost faith in most things and was wandering through his young life with little faith or direction. Bob showed up unannounced at his front door one Saturday morning, took the young man for a walk, and convinced him to rejoin the Boy Scouts after nearly a year away. That young man returned to scouting with a newfound vigor and became a proud Eagle Scout from East Falmouth's Troop 42. That Eagle room is filled with other photos and symbols telling stories of Bob's more than sixty years as a leader in scouting. He has helped countless young Falmouth men live the scout law - showing them they way to be good men, good citizens, and a trustworthy, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent lot.
There are many similar stories throughout the United States over the last 100 years. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded by Chicago publisher William Boyce on February 8, 1910. Next week, scouts from all over Cape Cod will gather at the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School to celebrate this century of young leaders and the one percent of those, nearly two million strong in that hundred years, who have attained the rank of Eagle. Celebrity Falmouthite Wayne Soares will be the guest speaker at this special event. He may have even attended a couple of scout meetings at St. Anthony's Church between basketball games.
The Ealges are among us here in Falmouth. We often hear about John Glen and President Gerald Ford as having the honor of wearing the Eagle bade, but take a look around, and you'll see some Falmouth-based Eagles in your everyday life. When you make a call for help from the Falmouth Fire/Rescue Department, you just might come in contact with Lt. Scott Thrasher, one of Troop 42's Eagles who will be celebrating that proud anniversary on February 8. He will probably be alongside his brother Brian, another Falmouthite who stuck around after scouting to make a life here as a good citizen. Maybe your call for help would come in our neighboring town of Mashpee, where Fire Chief George Baker may arrive and share some stories of his road to Eagle in Troop 42. Perhaps when your computer needs a fix up, you head down to Cape Coastal on Locust Street where Eagle (and the Dad of young scouts) Chris Alves nurses your electronics back to health, just as he did with fellow scouts while earning his first aid merit badge on the way to his ultimate rank.
The "Eagle Charge," the motivating speech given to an ascending scout at his court of honor, where friends and family gather to celebrate, tells the newly minted honoree that, "Your position, as you well know, is one of honor and responsibility. You are a marked man. As an Eagle Scout you have assumed a solemn obligation to do your duty to god to country, to your fellow Scouts and to mankind in general. This is a great undertaking." A marked man, indeed. Up on the stage at each Town Meeting, an Eagle Scout leads us from his position of honor and responsibility as Moderator. Yes, there are Eagles among us.
So, if you encounter an Eagle, or any member or supporter of the BSA in the next week, tell them happy birthday, and thank them for being part of 100 years of building better citizens, a better Falmouth and a better America. I'll be saying thanks too. At that celebration on February 8th, I'll have the honor of introducing my friend and former neighbor, the guest speaker. I'll be doing so as a proud Eagle from Troop 42, the one who was so fortunate to take a walk on a Saturday morning with Uncle Bob those many years ago and was guided back into East Falmouth's Troop 42 of the BSA. Thanks, Uncle Bob, and happy birthday to us all.
This column is reprinted from the Falmouth Enterprise.