BSA Chief visits Newtown, presents Spirit of the Eagle Award to Tiger Cubs’ parents

newtownIn a touching gesture, the two Tiger Cubs killed in last week’s shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School have been awarded the Spirit of the Eagle Award.

BSA Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock and other top professionals presented the families of Chase Kowalski and Benjamin Wheeler with the award, “an honorary, posthumous special recognition for a registered youth member who has lost his or her life in an accident or through illness.”

Wayne shared with the BSA family some details from his emotional visit. I can’t imagine the overwhelming heartache he witnessed as he attended three wakes and a funeral for Tiger Cubs Chase and Benjamin, as well as for two girls who were sisters of Cub Scouts in Newtown’s Pack 170.

The photo above, shared by CBS Reporter Paula Reid, shows Scouts saluting 6-year-old Benjamin at one of those events. What a powerful image. (Note: Paula tells me the Scouts will likely be featured in her story on The CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley at 6:30 p.m. Eastern today, Thursday.)

Take a moment to read Wayne’s heartfelt letter below. In it, you’ll find details on the outpouring of support that’s already been felt in Newtown — phone calls, e-mails, and letters from Scouting families from all over the world.

And Wayne shares info on how to send supportive cards and letters or make a donation to a memorial fund established by the Connecticut Yankee Council.

Here’s the letter: 

Wayne Brock’s Letter

To: National Board, Advisory Council, and our BSA family:

As I write this message, I am on an airplane returning from Newtown, Connecticut, where along with Scouters from the Connecticut Yankee Council, I attended three wakes and a funeral for the two Cub Scouts and two sisters of Cub Scouts who lost their lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School. We were all overcome with emotion. The outpouring of support was wonderful. People waited in line for hours in the cold to express their condolences and support for the families of all the children lost on that tragic day.

The council president, Doug Machin, shared with families that the council established a memorial fund in the names of their loved ones and that the council has received phone calls, emails, and letters from Scouting families from all over the world.

The council director of field service, Jon Pleva, presented an American flag to the families of Cub Scouts Chase Kowalski and Benjamin Wheeler, and I presented each boy’s family the Spirit of the Eagle Award on behalf of the Boy Scouts of America. I can tell you, the families were very touched and appreciative.

During times like this, we all want to do something. We feel helpless. The Scouters of Newtown understand this and asked me to express their appreciation to you. Right now, what they need most is time to heal as a community. In the weeks ahead, the Scouts and Scouters of Newtown will convene to determine if there is anything more our Scouting family can do for them. For now, our thoughts, prayers, and contributions to the memorial fund are important. If interested, donations, cards, and letters can be sent to the Pack 170 Memorial Fund, c/o Connecticut Yankee Council, P.O. Box 32, Milford, CT 06460.

I believe we can take comfort in knowing that even during the sad and disturbing times we experience in the face of national tragedies, the Boy Scouts of America is among the constants that young people and their families can look to for guidance and support. We need strong shoulders, to be sure, to bear such a burden, but it is a load that we have carried honorably and well for more than a century. Our nation’s young people depend on the values we teach, and we will never let them down. I am so proud to be working shoulder to shoulder with each of you in service to the youth of America.

— Wayne Brock

23 thoughts on “BSA Chief visits Newtown, presents Spirit of the Eagle Award to Tiger Cubs’ parents

  1. i feel that what you did was a very wonderful gesture and it shows just how the bsa stands for and recognizes the value of those kids in the scouts as a former mother of a child in the cub scouts and also assistant to the den leader i feel this was one of the most touching and heartfelt generous things i have ever read about so far my son was shocked to learn there is value still in peoples hearts and i got to say i give the bsa more then 2 thumbs up i hope all have a blessed days to look forward to with the rest of their lives and im proud although it was a great loss to those families its nice to know there are people who do care and cherish all the hard work those boys did and that is the real blessing in all that has happened

  2. CSE Ben Love visited Stockton CA after the Cleveland School shooting in 1988. We went to the home of a teacher recovering from gunshot wounds to present the BSA Heroism Award. As a teacher and den leader, she took a bullet while shielding her students from harm. A moving tribute to a brave woman, and one I will never forget. Let’s not let this happen again. Doug McDonald, Scout Executive (retired).

  3. My Cubscouts voted to donate all their dues to the Pack. We will have a card made and a check sent out soon. Our hearts are broken.

  4. Pack 218 from Bear Grass, NC sent a card that all the scouts signed at our Pack meeting. These families are in all our thoughts & prayers.

  5. Pingback: BSA Chief visits Newtown, presents Spirit of the Eagle Award to Tiger Cubs’ parents

  6. Letter posted on facebook so that all my friends and family members can help in some small way. It also gets to those who are in the scouting world but who don’t receive your blog. Thanks for the posting!

  7. The Commissioner’s Staff here in the Southern New Jersey Council are broken hearted and I have forwarded this to the 6 units I serve.

  8. God Bless all the children in Sandy Hook. Each and everyone of them are scouts in my eyes, as I’ve been a Den Leader, Cubmaster and Scoutmaster I truely feel in my heart that we’ve lost so much and they will be forever missed.

  9. My heart is both saddened for the Sandy Hook families, and lifted at the response of Scouters for the scouting families affected by this awful tragedy. I hope BSA will consider Mental Heath Awareness a worthwhile and much needed endeavor.

  10. Pingback: Greatest hits: My 12 most-read blog posts of 2012 « Bryan on Scouting

  11. As a father to Cub Scout and a Cubmaster, I was devastated to hear about this act of an evil man. We will have a moment of silence at our next pack show in memory of all the victims. May God bless everyone involved and help them heal.

  12. I’m heartbroken. I want to do more than send condolences. I want to do something that might help prevent the next tragedy. “There is a lot we can do without laws. We have to change social norms around guns,” Hemenway said, adding, however, that it will take an effort involving everyone from media outlets to parents’ groups to children’s advocates to gun owners themselves. “Every group has to ask, ‘What can we do?’ ’’
    What can the BSA do? What can my pack do? How can we promote gun safety? Can we do something to encourage gun owners to lock up their guns so people don’t steal them and do terrible things with them?

  13. From the Leaders and youth members of the 1st Warnbro Sound Scout Group, Australia sends their condolences and thoughts to the families and Pack 170 for their loss

  14. Pingback: Spirit of the Eagle Award honors the Scouts we lost too soon « Bryan on Scouting

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