John Rowell drove from his home in Moorhead to the Northern Lights Council of Boy Scouts building in Fargo on Tuesday morning to end a 50-year chapter in his life. Rowell turned in the Eagle Scout award he earned in 1966.
“There was a very nice woman at the counter and I handed her my award. She looked surprised and then sad. I was sad, too,” Rowell said.
Eagle Scout is the highest honor a Boy Scout can earn. About 4 percent of Scouts are granted the award, which requires earning at least 21 merit badges and a lengthy review process.
It was Rowell’s way of protesting the inaction of Scout leadership during President Donald Trump’s controversial political speech at the Boy Scout Jamboree in West Virginia on Monday. Trump’s address to about 40,000 Scouts included digs at former President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State and Trump’s opponent in the 2016 election Hillary Clinton, the news media and people the president believes aren’t being loyal enough. The Scouts cheered some of Trump’s lines.
Rowell is a former Moorhead City Councilman and a Democrat, but he turned in his award not because of Trump’s speech, per se, but because of Scout leadership’s reaction to it. Or, perhaps more accurately, non-reaction.