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Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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Howard's Campfire Talk

January 31, 2007

Dear Mr. Menzer:

Hello, my name is Mike, and I came across the website, "Scouting for all" while trying to find the origins of a small paperweight type statue "R. Tait McKenzie's sculpture of The Ideal Scout" with the following dedication.. "Stanford Area Council Boy Scouts of America Century Club Member" on the plaque at it's base. As I received this item from my deceased brother, an eagle scout sense the mid 60's, who loved collecting scouting knives and memorabilia the last couple of years of his life, I thought you might like this short story.

My brother, 9 years my senior and 1/2 of the only set of twins my mother bore, was born in 1948, was not gay, nor was any member of our family. We all were educated in a central Minnesota Catholic school by Nuns and Priests. Or were we? As I was never in the Boy Scouts, I will have to argue that we were educated by our Parents, or you may include The B. S. of A. The reason for this argument of ed ucation is because of the conflict in outcome.

My oldest brothers, twins.. Bob and John, John now deceased, were in catholic schools from grades 1 through 12. They were sharp and the absolute epitome and pride of the local Catholic Parish in a community of over 80% German Catholics. There were 2 requests made of my brother John the day that he found he had 2 months to live (news he received on his 53rd birthday). One was that he receive his burial service at the Church where he had spent worship as a boy scout youth, the other that he be properly medicated to not have to suffer pain. My brother Loved God, Loved Scouting! He didn't love Church, but he associated Church with those years of scouting I suppose.

Anyway, many years after the fact I learned of a letter my brothers, Bob and John had both received from a former high school classmate. In this letter, this former classmate of theirs revealed the fact that he was gay. H ad always been gay, and did not understand how my brothers could not know as everyone else certainly seemed to. It seems he had concluded that my brothers could not have known because of the way they welcomed and continued to include him (as well as all of their long established friends) when he first moved to our community during the beginning of their high school years. But regardless of weather they knew or not he felt compelled to write them this letter. Thanking them for always making him feel good about himself and including that they were completely exclusive in that regard. The fact is that my brothers did not know, neither did they care! They were NOT naive! They were both very bright guys! Very Bright! Somehow the fact never occurred to them. My guess is that even their distant friends knew them well enough to keep any targeted talk of this matter (as a means of popular empty speech from spewing out of their mouths) when in my brother's presence. At any rate, John looked upon this letter as a complement to his upbringing. I agree!

As I go through all of John's scouting stuff he collected, I am astounded at how much he has. At his request he was buried with his favorite Official Boy Scouts of America pocket knives along with a couple of shotgun shells and fishing lures. And I will tell you this.. I have watched too many people die. I mean WATCHED too many people die. All of them with stellar courage. But nothing compared to the courage this man displayed. Never did he once fear. Not once did he despair. He had many people around him and all he spoke of was how wonderful everyone was being in caring for him. Where does that kind of thoughtfulness of others come from. I believe he was prepared. And now that I'm looking through all of his scout stuff I am surrounded in thought by the scouting motto and oath. These are the kinds of messages I start my day with now. Mainly to Be Prepared! I am very fortunate to have had parents that instilled in us all to treat all people equally and to have siblings who have supported that.

My brother John was the kind of guy that would walk into a room and say what would have been the most inappropriate and borderline disgusting things had they come out of my mouth. But he had a delivery that not only resulted in acceptance but inspired an occasional copy cat. Their mistake in trying! John was John and leave him that exclusive for if he were anything it was honest. Not only to others but to himself. Another scout trait. I will always keep myself on guard to watch myself. Watch myself for behavior or actions that would display or lead to bigotry or prejudice. And try to include myself in the struggle of others in speaking up against injustice. Anyone who thinks that scouting should include exclusion needs to read the scout oath and motto more seriously. And take reference of a great man and scout who I know without a shadow of a doubt would have spoken up and defended his right to associate with his high school friend, and his friends right to be treated with enthusiastic inclusion, had he known, (even at that young age not to mention time frame) he was gay.

Well, not so short of story I guess. Thanks for reading. Oh ya, any idea on the origins of the miniature statue mentioned?

Thanks, Mike

Dear Mike

Needless to say your story left me in tears. I would have been proud to know your brother and call him my friend and brother. I too love scouting but unfortunately these days they teach hate. It is the kind of hate that will effect us all for generations to come. Discrimination, wherever it is needs to be addressed and stopped.

we do have a branch of Scouting For All in the mid west and I would be most happy to invited you, in memory of your brother and his and your ideals to join us and make a difference in the lives of so many youth tossed aside for what they are or believe.

As for the statue, I do not remember that and I was in Scouting for 54 years but maybe some other of my associates will. To that end I am going to circulate this letter among them and ask them to respond to you if they have the information you seek. I also welcome you to write again in you want to. I will welcome your letters.

Thank you for writing

Howard Menzer Eagle Scout 1951
Southwest Regional Director
Scoutin For All




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