Several of My Proudest Moments

by david on December 4, 2011

Last time, I promised to tell you the things I am proud of. I will do just that, but I need to add a caveat before I get started. These are to the best that I can remember in chronological order, not by rank or in order of importance to me. They are all important to me or they would not be listed here.

The first milestone I can remember was earning the rank of Eagle Scout before my 14th birthday. That is particularly young, you might say, and I agree with you. That is part of the reason I am so proud of it, but I should offer a little more explanation. I was one of the youngest in the crowd of neighborhood boys that I hung out with. When they all joined Boy Scouts, I felt left out. It really bothered me that every Tuesday night they left me at home to go to Scouts. I finally worked up the nerve to ask the Scout Master if I could join early since I had already achieved the highest Cub Scout rank. When he agreed, I was ecstatic. That I joined early was one of the reasons I completed the Eagle Scout requirements early. The second reason was my Scout Master. In addition to the best parents, I also had the best Scout Master anyone could ever ask for. Roy Forehand was a retired U.S. Army Colonel and serious about young men and the lessons they could learn from scouting. In addition to making us toe the line and keeping us advancing in rank and earning merit badges, he taught us to be complete outdoorsmen. He taught us how to build a survival camp, make a fire without matches, build snares, and know which plants were edible. We even camped out in sub-zero weather so we could learn cold weather survival and it was great! With the parents and Scout Master, becoming an Eagle Scout was not an “if” but a “when”.

The second thing I can remember was becoming a confirmed adult member in church. This was back in the dark ages when the candidate for Confirmation had to stand up in front of the church and pass an oral exam. I can remember being scared to death I would not be able to answer one of the questions that I would be given and failing before God, my parents, and everyone in the congregation. Believe you me, I studied harder for that than any test I ever previously taken. When I answered everything correctly and became a full adult member of my church, that was one of the best days ever.

It was not so much at the time, but that, as I grew older, graduating from high school and college became a source of pride. While I could never have been considered an exemplary student, I got better than passing grades in all of my classes in high school and I got into college. College went well until I changed majors in my junior year. I ended up having to go an extra year because of said changes. When I graduated from North Carolina State University, it was one of those rare occurrences when you have the right to puff up your chest and walk with your head held high. The fact that the men’s basketball team had won the national championship that March did not hurt either. Go Pack!!!

When my bride said “I do” in 1984, and recently said “I do” again when we renewed our vows in Africa, is a source of pride for me. Partially because I cannot believe she agreed to marry me in the first place, but also because we are still together when so many marriages fall apart, is something to be proud of. Sure, we have our ups and downs, but, by being an adult and always remembering our love for each other, we can always work things out. My two daughters are another great source of pride, and I should tell them that a lot more than I do. My oldest just graduated from Duke with a degree in biomechanical engineering and is planning to go back to medical school. My youngest is a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill and is majoring in science / chemistry. They are both great girls and I love them dearly.

I mentioned earlier that my father started working for Lowe’s Companies straight from college. Well, like father, like son, I did the same thing. When my dad, through his hard effort and putting in many hours, was able to retire at 39 from Lowe’s, it became a goal of mine to do the same thing. By retiring early, he was able to be there for my two brothers and I while we were growing up, and I wanted to do the same for my girls. It was a tough road and one I would not like to repeat. I never worked less than 45 hours a week. There were weeks of 70 plus hours and one stretch of 39 ten-hour plus days in a row. I was not able to retire at 39 like my dad, but I was able to retire two months after my 40th birthday, and I am proud that I was able to set and accomplish a goal of that magnitude.

Being able to help start a new Boy Scout troop in my church and return to an active status in the Boy Scouts is another source of pride to me. As you can imagine, because of my work schedule, I was absent from scouting for a long time. Returning to it was like coming home again and never skipping a beat. Scouting is important for every youngster. Being able to introduce them to the outdoors and watch them grow and mature with the guidance of Scout Laws and Oath makes me beam with pride for each and every one of them. My newest duty in scouting is being on the Eagle Scout Board of Review board in my local district. So far, I have had the privilege of participating on seven such boards, and there are seven new Eagle Scouts.

Getting “Safari 101” published is my most recent source of pride as it was a long and grueling process. Going on safari, learning the hunting skills, animals, travel tips, shooting skills, and all that goes along with the safari industry, was easy when it comes to writing it all down and putting it into a book. Writing it all down and putting it into a book is extremely easy when it comes to finding someone to publish your book. Finding someone to publish your book is easy when it comes to complying with all of the tasks and requirements you are given once you have a publisher. Without going into great detail, let’s just say that if I had known what I know now when I started writing “Safari 101”, I may never have started the project. I do not want to leave the impression that people in the publishing business are mean or difficult, they are not. It is just after dozens and dozens of rejection letters and then a homework list that would fill several dozen pages of a legal pad, and then once they are completed, maintaining the homework, well, you get the picture. I think I have earned the right to feel a little pride in getting the book published as the road was long and grueling, but I made it.

What’s next? How about hunting philosophy?

Next post: