Eagles in the Family

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Walker Smith with his parents Henry and Debbie.
Walker Smith with his parents Henry and Debbie.

Crozet has another Eagle Scout and he’s the son of an Eagle Scout, the first time that’s happened in Boy Scout Troop 79. A Court of Honor was held for Walker Smith February 21 at Crozet United Methodist Church, the home base for the troop, and when Walker recited his Eagle oath, his father Henry was among the other Eagle Scouts on hand who also stood and repeated the oath. Henry stood in the same spot in 1974 when he earned Eagle rank. Henry’s father Charles was also in the same troop and his mother Gwen was on hand as well to witness the father/son milestone. Walker’s brother Landon is also in the troop.

Walker Smith’s Eagle Scout project was an addition to Harmony Place, the playground built by Tabor Presbyterian Church near Crozet Library. The project included building a climbing ramp, a tunnel beneath it and construction of a putting green. In his gracious closing remarks Smith thanked Tabor’s Jesse Haden, Robin McElwee and Bettye Walsh, who, along with Carol Davis, provided funding for the project.

Smith started as a Cub Scout at Pack 492, which meets at V.L. Murray Elementary School in Ivy, and joined Troop 79 in 2009. Troop Scoutmaster Gary Conley recalled him as “reserved” when he joined. Since then he has climbed the leadership ranks and served as Senior Patrol Leader. He completed his Eagle requirements last October. “He has always done his best to serve as a positive example to others,” Conley affirmed. “Eagle is the symbol of the highest achievement.”

After the color guard opened the ceremony, 28 scouts in the troop stood to recite the Scout Oath. Three candles symbolizing courage, purity and fidelity were lit on a stand bearing the fleur-de-lis emblem of scouting.

Smith had to shoulder a little teasing as his early scouting career was recalled. Conley noted that Walker’s name is an ironic one for someone noted as a baseball pitcher. “His thoughts and fantasies still contemplate taking over the world,” Conley claimed. And finally Smith was presented with a stuffed animal rattlesnake that was an allusion to a rattlesnake episode at a campsite.

Conley recalled how Smith once forgot his sleep bag and improvised by stuffing leaves into a trash bag for a rack. “He never forgot it again.”

Henry Smith stood to renew his Eagle Scout oath as his son Walker recited, too, in the ceremony where he was awarded Eagle rank.
Henry Smith stood to renew his Eagle Scout oath as his son Walker recited, too, in the ceremony where he was awarded Eagle rank.

Changing tone, Conley said, “Walker brings dedication to everything he does. You’re  a fine young man,” he said, turning to him, “and a credit to this community. You’re marked for further leadership. You embark on the journey of an Eagle in continued service.”

Eight Eagles in the audience joined in reciting the Eagle oath. Among them was Stonewall Jackson Area Council president Craig Redinger, whose son Kyle also earned Eagle rank. “We’re grateful to you adult leaders for helping these young men get through their projects,” he said.

Smith’s father put his new Eagle handkerchief on him and his mother Debbie attached his new Eagle pin. In return he pinned small pewter Eagle pins in their lapels in recognition of their support in reaching such a signal height.

Letters and certificates from state political figures were presented to him, including one from President Barack Obama. White Hall District Supervisor Ann Mallek came forward to praise his playground project. “I know you’ll find a special way to stay involved in your community,” she said.

Redinger noted that only four percent of scouts reach Eagle rank. The Stonewall Jackson council, which encompasses the Shenandoah Valley and many Piedmont counties as well as parts of West Virginia, has nearly 5,000 Eagles, he said.

Smith said, “I thank everybody. First of all my parents, who pushed me when I was willing, and when I was unwilling. Thanks to the ladies of Tabor for helping all through the project. Thanks to my scoutmasters in helping me advance. Thanks to my relatives and friends.” He was so sincere and modest in saying it that he drew emotion from the crowd and they clapped warmly when he was done.

Smith earned 26 merit badges and said his favorites were for shotgun and rifle and his least fun was communication, which required public speaking.

The family hosted a delicious supper of fried chicken, ham, baked beans, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese, with a side of fresh greens, in the church hall afterward.

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