Scouts of America: Supporting an Ongoing Tradition of Honoring Public Service

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Scout wears new Eagle award on the left pocket of his Boy Scout shirt in Chicago. To earn Eagle rank, the scout earned 21 merit badges and organized a two-part community service project.

Scouts of America: Supporting an Ongoing Tradition of Honoring Public Service

The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America believe that America’s youth are the key to building a more conscientious, productive, and responsible society. These leadership developmental organizations provide programs for youth that build character, courage and confidence, train them in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and help them discover their strengths, talents, and passions.

We at the U.S. Department of State are excited to participate in continuing a more than 100 year old tradition -- along with many other government officials, astronauts, religious leaders, politicians, celebrities, and other recognizable figures -- of sending hand-signed congratulatory letters to new Eagle Scouts and Gold Award Scouts in the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. The State Department is honored to have the opportunity to recognize and honor boy and girl scouts who are going the extra mile to demonstrate values that serve as important pillars of global citizenry.

For many young people around the nation, becoming an Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts -- or a Gold Award Scout in the Girl Scouts -- is a great accomplishment. Achieving one of these honors not only involves remarkable leadership and dedication to excellence, but also a commitment to improving their individual communities. Many of these Scouts are a part of educational Honor Societies, hold high rank in their troops, and create exceptional service projects -- ranging from helping the homeless, to repairing walkways, to creating parks for kids, or helping small animals. Since 1912, over 2.3 million young men have achieved Eagle Scout status, and since 1916, more than one million girls have earned the Gold Award or its equivalent.

Recognizing the achievements of these scouts with a congratulatory letter serves to honor each individual Eagle Scout or Gold Scout by commending them on their dedication, citizenship, and leadership. It is an honor and tradition that extends to even the highest ranks of the U.S. Department of State.  Just last year, over 4,000 letters were sent to Eagle Scouts and Gold Award Scouts across the country on behalf of former Secretary of State John Kerry.  Letters have also been sent by former Secretaries of State Clinton, Rice, and Powell. They have praised Eagle Scout and Gold Award Scouts on their special combination of integrity, perseverance, and discipline required of them to achieve such an honor.

U.S. Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, also has roots in the Boy Scouts of America.  Secretary Tillerson is a Distinguished Eagle Scout, Silver Buffalo Award recipient, and past national president of the Boy Scouts of America from 2010 to 2012. In 2009, he was inducted into the Eagle Scout Hall of Fame of the Greater New York Councils.  

Many boys and girls scouts have shared that these letters become treasured keepsakes and encouraged them to continue their life-long commitment to the values of the Scouts through continued community service, or through military or government service. Efforts to recognize the scouts activities are just one way the U.S. Department of State strives to encourage public service as it engages with the American public. We look forward to continuing to congratulate these future global leaders as they work to uplift their communities and gain skills that reflect the best of America’s values both at home and abroad.

Editor's Note: This entry is also published on

For more information:

  • Find out how you can request a congratulatory letter here. (Include the Scout’s full name, troop number, council, and a short description of their service project.)


Irina Karmanova

Contributor bio

Irina Karmanova serves as a Public Affairs Officer in the Bureau of Public Affairs at the Department of State.