PHILADELPHIA The mantle of leadership is not the cloak of comfort but the robe of responsibility, President Thomas S. Monson told some 1,500 professional and volunteer Scout leaders and heads of industry May 29 in Philadelphia.
"Youth needs fewer critics and more models. One wise builder of faith counseled, 'It does not pay to scold. I believe you can get people to do anything, if you can get them to do it at all, by loving them into doing it.' "
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, delivered his address during the National Boy Scouts of America Duty to God Breakfast held during the annual convention of the Boy Scouts of America.
President Monson has been a member of the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America since 1969 the longest continuous serving member of that board. Throughout his life, President Monson has been active in Scouting on a local, regional, national and international level. He is a member of the National Executive Board, the International Committee and formerly served as a member of the Magazine Committee. In 1971, he served as a delegate to the World Conference on Scouting in Tokyo, Japan; in 1973, as a delegate representing the United States at the World Conference on Scouting in Nairobi, Kenya; and in 1975 as a delegate to the World Conference on Scouting in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In addition to receiving the Boy Scouts of America Silver Beaver and Silver Buffalo awards, he is the recipient of international Scouting's highest award, the Bronze Wolf, received in 1993.
In his address, President Monson said, "We are builders of boys and menders of men. In doing so, we remember that the greatest verb in the vocabulary is to love; the second is to help.
"It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to serve others by helping to instill values in young people and, in other ways, to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime in achieving their full potential."
President Monson recalled his first overnight encampment 63 years ago as a Tenderfoot Scout. His Scout leader, Carl, had an artificial leg, and "several of the boys were anxious to get hold of that leg and play a practical joke on him. After that cold night, the first thing I remember the next morning was hearing our leader, Carl, saying, 'I must have misplaced my leg. Does anyone know where it is? Maybe if I hop out the door for a while, you could locate it somewhere in the cabin.' "
The artificial leg was quickly returned to the leader's bunk, where he promptly found it. "Not one word of scolding came from him not even a scowl. Rather, he cheerfully remarked as he attached the leg, 'Now I'm happy. I'd hate to try to keep up with you boys just hopping on one leg!'
"We were but 12 years old then. To my knowledge, as long as he lived Carl never mentioned the incident. A lesson was learned. Our appreciation for Carl, our Scout leader, soared. Many years later, I presided and spoke at Carl's funeral service.
"We live in troubled times," President Monson continued. "Those for whom we have responsibility look to us for guidance and example. They know that the dropout of today is going to be the shutout in tomorrow's economy."
President Monson spoke of the concern today over the growth of earning capacity and the neglect of the growth of character. "As we view the disillusionment that today engulfs countless thousands, we are learning the hard way what an ancient prophet wrote out for us 3,000 years ago: 'He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase.' (Ecclesiastes 5:10.)
"It is an immutable law that the more you give away, the more you receive. You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give. I commend you leaders of boys, for you demonstrate by your lives that the greatest gift a man can give a boy is his 'willingness to share a part of his life with him.' "
President Monson then shared the tender account of his university swimming coach, Charlie Welch, "who perhaps aided more boys than did any other man to achieve their swimming skills and successfully earn their Life Saving Merit Badge."
One day in 1944, with Tom Monson in attendance, the coach was calling the roll at swimming class at the University of Utah when the door opened and in walked a young man in Navy uniform. "The sailor came up to Charlie and said, 'Charlie, excuse me, but I want to thank you for saving my life.' "
The young man went on to explain that Charlie Welch had patiently taught him to swim years earlier. "Two months ago, far off in the Pacific, an enemy torpedo sank my destroyer. As I swam my way through the murky waters and foul-tasting dangerous film of oil, I found myself promising, 'If I ever get out of this mess alive, I'm going to thank Charlie Welch for teaching me, as a Boy Scout, how to swim.' Today I came here to say 'thank you.'
"Twenty athletes stood shoulder to shoulder and never uttered a word," President Monson recalled. "We watched the great tears of gratitude well up in Charlie's eyes, roll down his cheeks, and tumble upon his familiar gray sweat shirt. Charlie Welch, a humble, prayerful, patient, and loving builder of boys, had just received his reward."
President Monson then related the account of the Borgstrom family in northern Utah. "The time was World War II. Fierce battles raged in various parts of the world. Tragically, the Borgstroms lost four of their five sons who were serving in the Armed Forces. Within a six-month period, all four sons gave their lives each one in a different part of the world."
After the war, the bodies of the young men were brought home to Tremonton, where Gen. Mark Clark attended the funeral service. There, he visited with the family, which included two remaining sons, one who had survived the war, and one, a teenager. Later, during the luncheon, Mrs. Borgstrom turned to Gen. Clark and said in a low voice, "Are you going to take my young one?"
The general replied that as long as he was in command of the Army on the West Coast, he would do his best to see the boy assigned to duty at home if he were called up. Hearing the conversation, the father turned and said, 'Mother, I have overheard your conversation with the general about our youngest. We know that if and when his country needs him, he will go."
Years later, after serving as commander-in-chief during the last year and a half of the Korean War, Gen. Clark commented, "There [in Korea] I saw more brave Americans die, and as I wrote to their parents conveying the condolences of a proud nation, I always was reminded of the Borgstrom mother and father, the bravest and most inspiring Americans I have ever met."
In his closing remarks, President Monson added: "One of the most famous enlistment posters of World War II was one depicting Uncle Sam pointing his long finger and directing his piercing eyes at the viewer. The words read, 'America Needs You.' America truly does need you and me to lead out in a mighty crusade of righteousness. We can help when we love God and with our families serve Him; and when we love our neighbor as ourselves.
"The frightening trend toward crime, lawlessness and violence will then be arrested. God will continue to 'shed his grace on thee,' America, 'and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea.' "
Following a lengthy standing applause, President Monson was honored for his decades of service to the Boy Scouts of America organization. Chief Scout Executive Roy L. Williams presented him with the Norman Rockwell painting, "The Scoutmaster."
In accepting the gift, President Monson said, "This particular painting by the renowned artist Norman Rockwell is one of my favorites." He held the picture aloft and described the Scoutmaster standing by the embers of the dying fire and observing safely tucked away in their sleeping bags and tents the Scouts for whom he is responsible. President Monson commented that Norman Rockwell had captured the spirit of Scouting. He concluded his remarks by directing the audience's attention to the star-filled sky in the painting, commenting, "The stars are in the sky, God's in the heaven, and all is well." Those in the audience renewed their applause.