August 6th, 2012


Boy Scouts of America, you do have a choice. I know that many of you are affiliated with the military and that many Scouts go on to military service. You can choose to follow the U.S. Military’s recent decision to end “don’t ask, don’t tell.” You can learn from them about how they have changed their policy, about how they learned to accept the reality that gay and lesbian soldiers were already within their ranks and that this was only a way for those soldiers to be open and honest about the lives they were already leading.

Your other option is to go in the direction of the Catholic Church. You can choose to become increasingly bitter, angry, secluded, and delusional. You can go on foolishly believing in your own self-righteousness and convincing yourself that you are upholding tradition while the rest of the world laughs at your blatant hypocrisy and watches you get humiliated by scandal after scandal.


My Eagle Scout medal is on the dresser in my room in my parent’s house in Mississippi, and it will stay there. It means too much to them for me to give it back. They worked too hard to help me get it. The medal means too much to the Scoutmasters who volunteered their time and energy to help me and other young men to grow into maturity through the scouting program. I know that it meant a lot to those black folks in my church and in my community who themselves endured hatred and violence under Jim Crow in Mississippi. Many of them were happy to lend their support to a young black man from their community who was trying to do something good. Some of those same people may not agree with this stance that I am taking now. My parents may not even agree with all of this. I just hope that they will see that my position is a direct result of the values that they taught me and not an aberration from them.

His proud mother responded:

I cannot speak for anyone but myself at this time, but I want to assure you that my love for you, my son, will always remain the same. You are 34 years old now and all of your life you have been the ‘perfect’ son. You have given us so many proud moments and for this I am so grateful to call you my son. As a mother, very few things surprise me about my children. I have wanted to talk to you, ‘one on one’ about your personal life, but could not find the opportunity to do so. I understand a lot more than you think and I accept you for who you are. Your article was an “eye opener’ for me, for you brought out so many truths. Thank you son for opening up your heart to us. Look for a call soon.

I love you with my all my heart and soul and nothing will ever change that. Thank you, son.

Your Mama, with love.

Each passing day finds the circle of wagons gathered by the small and ignorant men who have so dishonorably abandoned the American values that I came to understand were embodied in the honor of attaining the rank of Eagle Scout grows smaller and smaller as they strive mightily to make themselves irrelevant.



  1. lavelle says:

    Thanks for reading and sharing my post. And thank you for returning your medal and writing about it. I’m delighted to see all this solidarity among former Scouts. Keep up the good work you are doing.

    • Jeff Hess says:

      Good morning Lavelle,

      The honor is all mine. Ours is an important and distinguished fraternity and we owe those who have gone before us and those that will follow our best defense against those who seek to dishonor it.

      A brief story: I once held the door for a woman at the post office and she thanked me for the courtesy. I told her that if I hadn’t held the door my grandmother would have smacked me upside the head. She replied that I was a credit to my grandmother. I was 10-feet off the ground for the rest of the day.

      You sir, do your mother great credit.

      Yours in the Brotherhood of Eagles,

      Troop 216 (Marietta, Ohio) Honor Court, 5 September 1973

Leave a Reply

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image