The Lincoln Highway
National Museum & Archives
102 Old Lincoln Way West
Galion, Ohio 44833

(419) 462-2212 Voice
(419) 462-2214 Fax
(419) 566-0790 Cell

Number 25
The Harmon Awards
April 26, 2003

Dear Friends,

Shortly there after I was helping a friend
with some general repairs and landscape work.

During the course of our work together,
I told her about my work with the Boy Scouts
and the Lincoln Highway Project.

Then one day after a hard days work,
she presented me with a couple old Boy Scout Manuals
or "Handbook for Boys" as they were called.

Said she saw them at a flea market
and thought I might enjoy them.

Later that night,
I looked them over in detail
and was surprised how much
they'd changed over the years.

Seems to me they have lost direction,
but not these...it was all here,
every page a treasure.

In the very first editions,
there was even a section on Chivalry
that features Abraham Lincoln.

They even go on to say,

The attention to detail,
the history,
and most important,
the framework and building blocks
for building a meaningful and productive life.

Wow...pretty cool,
and carved in stone no less!!

Toward the end,
I noticed a chapter called,
"High Points By Years".

On a whim,
I looked up the year 1928
hoping to find some reference
to the Lincoln Highway Markers.

A chill went down my spine as I read:
First of 52 Harmon Foundation Awards made.

Get Real...there it was again.

I did my homework,
and it turns out William E. Harmon
was a Real Estate Mogul in New York
and established the awardsin 1927
to honor deserving Eagle Scouts
based on four criteria:

1.) Practice of the Scout Oath, Law Motto and Slogan.
2.) A least one year in active service to Scouting.
3.) Leadership Ability.
4.) Demonstration of Character, Perseverance, and /or Self-Sacrifice.

Mr. Harmon followed the process closely
and awarded over $26,000 to 260 Eagles
from 1928-1932.

At the time,
it was considered among
the highest honors in Scouting.
While in the Bay Area doing research,
I ran across a fellow with one of the largest
scouting collections in the US.

While thumbing through his material,
I tripped across this.

It is one of only 260.

At some point,
think it might be fun
to re-establish the Harmon Awards.

In any event,
I dug a little deeper on Mr. Harmon,
and found an interesting article
in the August 15, 1928 edition of
Survey Magazine.

Seems he was quite the busy boy...

He gave playgrounds to small cities...
prizes for "clean-ups" in a rural county...
awards and medals for...outstanding contributions."

I found out later he gave $600 dollars
to buy the original playground equipment
for Heise Park...in GALION, OHIO.

To continue...

"He was convinced that most of human kind needed gifts
less than they needed encouragement;
that a little material help at the right time
and with a friendly pat on the back would do the trick.

"Through it all could be seen
the finely tempered mind of a man
reaching back to his own thwarted youth...

realizing that a comparatively little help
would have seen him through."

"But it was as Jedediah Tingle,
that Mr. Harmon most vividly worked out
his plan of a friendly helping hand.

"Hundreds of people received a check and a warm letter which,
he once announced in the papers over his nom de plum,
were sent "to bring smiles and tender thoughts to the great heart
in high and low places, to comfort and cheer
those who do exceptional things, or suffer."

What a guy...

His identity was never disclosed,
until after his death.

Warmest Regards,

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