John W. Gardner – a former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare – once said:
“What leaders have to remember is that somewhere under the somnolent surface is the creature that builds civilizations, the dreamer of dreams, the risk taker. And remembering that, the leader must reach down to the springs that never dry up, the ever-fresh springs of the human spirit.”
It is our extraordinary team of moms, dads, extended family and friends that knows of this by heart. And year after year, littlest to biggest – they continue to do it.
Inspiring the dreamers of dreams. Mentoring the risk takers. Building the future leaders of our civilization.
This is a true team effort like no other.
One that sharpens each Boy Scout’s focus, hones their abilities and sets them on a path towards creating their signature project.
Servant volunteers that are exemplars of the very qualities sought as Scouts.
Through their selfless investment of their time, talent and treasures – they build lasting and positive pathways in the hearts and minds of these kids.
Reaching down into the springs that never dry up.
“Thank you” moms, dads, siblings, friends and associates for loving these kids that much.
Now it seems that risk has a bad connotation.
It has typically become associated with a situation or circumstance involving exposure to danger, harm, or loss.
Seems to me that Luke and William took a rather substantial risk to be honored here today. And yet, there seems to be complete sets of fully functioning limbs and appendages on both young men.
So risk is inherently a good thing.
Because to simply write it off as bad, too iffy a proposition or just plain scary would be a very dim way to look at things. Conceding to enduring an existence. A glass half-empty view of life.
Now that is something we optimists just cannot condone.
You have to regard risk as opportunity.
An endeavor to venture upon – not shrink from.
A chance to get to fully know yourself. Whether it be on a wrestling mat, football field, in box lacrosse or holding serve on the tennis court.
And I dare say that it is only in the choosing – that risk can fulfill its intended purpose. Deliver on its promise. And become the limitless source of replenishment for our own springs.
As the Roman philosopher and statesman Seneca once said, “It’s not because things are difficult that we dare not venture. It’s because we dare not venture that they are difficult.”
In short, unless you attempt. you will never know.
Who would have thought planting 750 cedar and dogwood trees in a national forest or giving middle school students a preserve of their very own on campus was in the realm of possibility?
It only took Luke and William to choose.
Assume some risk.
And dare to try.
All those challenges leading up to their Eagle Scout projects have filled their personal reservoirs to the brim with the experiences they needed to supplement their springs for a lifetime.
Now one might say that Schubert, Emerson and Shakespeare had rather unique ways of articulating how they saw the world. It could be said that these two young men lean into their lives in strikingly similar fashion.
As a cellist for both the Homestead orchestra and Milwaukee Youth Orchestra, William is becoming an accomplished talent, communicating his vision musically.
From an oratorical standpoint, Will has pled his case as a member of the Highlander forensics program on a national level. A talent I am sure lends itself to building consensus in student government.
And in college, he plans to follow an entirely different curriculum centered on math and science. A true all around scholar-athlete.
In the past, I got to know Luke more so as a student-athlete. I have recently come to learn that Luke has developed an affinity for the theatre. Luke and his cast-mates from his one-act class at Homestead have been plying their trade in preparation for The Fall of Orpheus.
And just yesterday, they were at the Jenkins Theatre in Stevens Point, breaking a leg, and putting themselves out there for all the world to see in a state-wide competition.
And boy did they break it.
Winning critic’s choice, ensemble, six individual acting, crew and director’s award. Who would have thought that? But I bet Luke knew.
Looking at them now, in their Scout finery, you wouldn’t think there were such bold young men in our midst.
Yet under their somewhat somnolent exteriors are two boys that probably always thought they could someday become Eagle Scouts.
It just took some help from others. First to see the limitless possibilities within themselves, and then, to escape their own limitations.
In advance of this day, I approached their parental units for a single word to describe their son.
The term “limitless” was offered up by one.
And now, as I reflect on this moment, I cannot think of a better way to describe them both.
Luke and William are joined at the hip.
Not just in terms of their flight path as Eagle Scouts.
But more so in terms of their limitless potential and their courage to just “go for it” and press ahead.
For ones just starting out, these young men already view life without end or boundary.
In amassing a total of 54 merit badges between them, it is evident that they seem to regard any and all possibilities unencumbered by size, quantity, range or scope.
Well done Mequon-Thiensville – you have turned out two more stellar young men.
A seemingly limitless supply – if you ask me.
The men we can always count on, will forever honor an oath and will be at their best when things are their worst.
Those that lean into challenges. Embrace the unknown.
And forge a path less chosen.
Builders of civilizations. Dreamers of dreams. Each drawn from a spring that will never dry up.
The ever fresh springs of the human spirit.