California Eagle Scout receives American Legion award

Restrictions on large gatherings may have prevented The American Legion from having its 101st National Convention in 2020, but it didn’t stop the organization from personally presenting its national Eagle Scout of the Year award in person on Aug. 29.

Eagle Scout Michael McPhie of Irvine, Calif., who was sponsored by Post 862 in SaddleBack Valley, earned the recognition and a $10,000 scholarship for his work to memorialize the stories of Orange County veterans through the Veterans History Project and the Library of Congress.

“I went through a lot of project ideas, and a lot of these came back to honoring veterans because they have given so much for our country,” McPhie said after receiving the award at the Norman P. Murray Community and Senior Center in Mission Viejo, from California 6th Area Commander Micheal Wier and District 29 Commander Sandy Schneeberger. “So when I learned about the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress, I thought that was a really amazing way of preserving veterans’ stories because their stories are so important for Americans to hear.”

The Eagle Scout’s mother, Erin McPhie, an American Legion Auxiliary member at large, said she appreciates the values The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary teach young people.

“I wanted my children to learn about Americanism,” she explained. “I wanted them to know the things they had to be grateful for. And I think The American Legion Auxiliary does such a wonderful job helping our youth learn these things. I think it’s really humbling to see Michael recognized by people who we look up to, rightly as true American heroes, who have given up so much for their country. And it makes me grateful for the country he’s inheriting.”

An active Scout since 2011 who received his Eagle Scout in 2018, McPhie also received commendations from several local officials and organizations.

During his acceptance speech, McPhie expressed his gratitude for the recognition and for the experience of hearing the recollections of veterans. “I wish everyone could hear these stories and listen to what this country means to those veterans and why they were willing to sacrifice so much,” he said in his acceptance speech. “I am so humbled to receive this award and this scholarship. I think about why members of The American Legion who have already given so much for our country, continue to give their time, their means, and devote their lives to this country … why they support youth programs like the Boy Scouts of America. Based on the stories they’ve told me, I would say they’ve done enough for our country. But this helped me realize that the work of Americans is never done. I’m grateful to the men and women of The American Legion and The American Legion Auxiliary in their work in building and preserving America. I’m grateful to be your Eagle Scout of the Year and I want you to know that I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my country. Thank you.”