The fifth day of the 12 days of a Scout Christ­mas reminds us that a Scout is courteous. I think it is important to question what courteous really means.  I believe we all know that it has got to be more than just saying please and thank you.  Courtesy appears to come from ones’ heart and goes beyond a person and inserts itself into how one acts towards his or her family, friends, strangers, teachers, duty, and country.

I tried to think of a historical courteous person. I could not think of just one person. Did you know there is an internet list of famous Eagle Scouts?  Naturally, I found my perfect person on this list. I chose Neil Armstrong, who passed away in 2012. I realize some Scouts might not recognize his name, but his life brings out all the broader ideas of courtesy.

Neil Armstrong was born in 1930 and grew up in a small town in Ohio. He knew he wanted to fly and worked to make enough money to take flying lessons. Flying was his passion and he had to know of courtesy through scouting, and was courteous to those he worked for or he would not have had people give him odd jobs. He eventually worked at the local airport in return for flying lessons. I’m sure he was courteous to his instructors as he obtained his pilot’s license at age 16.

After high School he went on a Navy scholarship to Purdue University to study aeronautical engineering. Two years later he fulfilled his scholarship duties and entered the Navy as an aviator. He fought many missions in the Korean War.  He returned to Purdue after two years and went on to graduate. As an officer in the Navy, he showed courtesy by fulfilling his obligations, and by accepting instructions from his superiors.

In 1962 he became a member of NASA (National Aeronautical Space Administration) and then on to be an astronaut. In 1969 he was asked to be the flight Commander for Apollo 11, the first manned space mission to the moon. His fellow astronaut was Buzz Aldrin. Neil Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon. His quotation when first stepping on the moon’s surface will forever be in the annals of history. “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

How courteous to call it a “small step”.  He left the American flag raised on the moon’s surface. That was surely a courtesy to Country. He was one who dreamed of the heavens, and we can only wonder during this Christmas season if he saw the very star which led the wise men to the baby Jesus in Bethlehem.

May we be inspired by Neil Armstrong’s enduring example and be a little more courteous.

Continue vis­iting the Voice of Scout­ing to find inspir­ing Christ­mas mes­sages based on the twelve points of the Scout Law: A Scout is trust­wor­thy, loy­al, help­ful, friend­ly, cour­te­ous, kind, obe­di­ent, cheer­ful, thrifty, brave, clean and rev­er­ent.

This year, the Christ­mas mes­sages will focus on the lives of his­tor­i­cal fig­ures and times when they exem­pli­fied a point of the Scout Law.

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Joyce Olesen
is a grandmother, mother, and daughter of Scouters. She love kids, camping, country music and sport cars. Her Dad was a Scout leader in Chicago in the early 1920’s and having only daughters did not bolster his Scouting hopes. As his "Scout" she was tying regulation knots by the time she was 7.

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