This month, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. When a boy takes the Scout Oath, he promises on his honor to do his best, to do his duty to God and his country and to obey the Scout Law. For 100 years, Scouting has prepared young boys to become leaders to give them the tools to become good citizens of this great nation. Many Boy Scouts have gone on to become great national leaders, including 18 Presidents of the United States who have been involved in Boy Scouts. In Congress today, 212 members were involved in Scouting either as a youth or as an adult Scout leader.
As a former Girl Scout, I know the values and traditions of Scouting helped me gain confidence and develop leadership skills. And now both my children are involved in Scouting as well. My son, Houston, is a proud member of Cub Scouts and my daughter, Bailey, is a Brownie. Scouting prepares our youngsters to become principled and accomplished adults in whatever their chosen field.
Boy Scouts and patriotism also go hand-in-hand. Service to country and honor are hallmarks of Scouting, and we can see many Scouting "alumni" serving in today’s military. As a matter of fact, more than 35 percent of the cadets at West Point were once Boy Scouts. More than 30 percent of the Air Force Academy cadets were Boy Scouts, as were more than 25 percent of the Naval Academy midshipmen. And more than 57 percent of America’s astronauts were once Boy Scouts! And I have had many former Eagle Scouts serve on my staff in both my Capitol and State offices.
All across Texas, the Scouting tradition continues to be passed from one generation to another. For over 100 years, parents have shared with their sons the Boy Scout lessons of being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. These are the attributes that not only do we want our sons to aspire to, but we, too, should make our goal in our daily lives.
The Boy Scouts of America have stood strong for these core American values for 100 years. Scouting has made a positive and enduring impression on its members. Scouting is not easy. The boys work hard for their merit badges. A badge is not given; it is earned. Boy Scouts are taught to handle failure as well as success. They learn that true achievement is not reached by a glide path, but often requires an arduous trek over rough terrain. Boy Scouts test their individual limits and strengths; but they also develop strong teamwork camaraderie. They forge friendships; they are mentored and they mentor. They always strive to do their best.
Boy Scouts not only work to better themselves, they also work to better their community. Service has always been a major component of Scouting. Community service is an integral part of the Boy Scout mission. In 2008, 2.8 million Boy Scouts members and adult volunteers provided more than 35 million service hours. Scouts provide countless hours of service to the U.S. Forest Service helping preserve our national forests. Scouts are at the forefront of local litter clean-up and beautification projects in their communities, as well as the collection and distribution of food for the needy.
More than 112 million boys have been involved in Boy Scouts of America during its first 100 years. As we celebrate their second century of service, let us remember that these young boys will help shape the future of this nation. The values they are learning in Scouting today will make them better men and better leaders.
Congratulations to the Boy Scouts of America on their Centennial. We join you to celebrate your past – and your future.
Kay Bailey Hutchison is the senior U.S. Senator from Texas and is the Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.