By Debbie Adams
Christian Shank earned Scouting’s highest honor in advancing to the rank of Eagle Scout at a
Court of Honor ceremony on Jan. 14 at Clearbrook Baptist Church in Roanoke. He is a member
of Troop 235, which meets in Vinton. His parents are Tammy and Stewart Shank.
He is a 2023 graduate of Faith Christian School and is now a student at Liberty University,
where he is a cadet in the Air Force ROTC program.
He has been involved with Scouting since fourth grade in both Mount Pleasant and Vinton.
Shank’s Scoutmaster Brian Cook was the Master of Ceremonies for the Court of Honor, which
began with the Presentation of Colors, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the invocation by
Clearbrook Baptist Pastor Bryan Ratliff and concluded with the awarding of the Eagle Scout
Several Scouts described the obligations and responsibilities of being an Eagle Scout. The first
obligation is to live honorably to set an example for other Scouts and reflect credit on their
homes, churches, troop, and community. The white on the Eagle Badge serves to remind Eagle
Scouts to live honorably.
The second obligation of an Eagle Scout is loyalty– to God, troop, family, Scout leaders, friends,
school, and nation. They are to “pitch in and carry their share of the load.” The color blue on the
Eagle Badge stands for loyalty.
The third obligation of an Eagle Scout is to be courageous— not just facing physical danger, but
standing up for the right, trusting in God, having faith in their fellowmen, looking forward to
each day, and seeking their share of the world’s work to do. Red on the Eagle Badge represents
An Eagle Scout’s fourth obligation is to be cheerful.
The fifth and final obligation is service. Eagle Scouts are to extend a helping hand to “those who
still toil up Scouting’s trail as others helped them on their journey. They are to perform a daily
Good Turn, protect the weak and helpless, aid and comfort the unfortunate and oppressed, and
uphold the rights of others while defending their own.” They are to always “Be Prepared” to put
forth their best.
Cook reminded those present just how prestigious an honor it is to work towards and receive the
rank of Eagle Scout. Only 4 percent of Scouts go on to become Eagle Scouts.
The Eagle Scout must earn 21 merit badges including those which are required (First Aid,
Citizenship in the Community, Citizenship in Society, Citizenship in the Nation, Citizenship in
the World, Communication, Cooking, personal fitness, emergency preparedness or lifesaving,
environmental science or sustainability, personal management, swimming or hiking or cycling,
camping, and family life) plus several others. Shank chose aviation, space exploration, mammal
study, art, Scout heritage, crime prevention, and leatherwork.
Candidates for Eagle Scout must also plan, raise funds for, and complete an approved service
project “worthy of an Eagle Scout.” For his project, Shank built heavy-duty benches at his
church and repaired and refurbished several others already in use– a project involving over 141
hours of planning and execution.
He chose the benches as his project in recognition of their importance to the church— an integral
part of church life at Clearbrook Baptist. The benches serve as a gathering place for the
congregation before and after services.
The wrought iron benches that were already in place needed maintenance and repair and there
weren’t enough of them to accommodate members. Shank decided to restore those benches and
also build several new, larger, longer, sturdier, weatherproof benches that would stand the test of
He researched plans for their construction. He and his fellow Scouts planned a pasta dinner
fundraiser at the church to raise money to complete the project. Then, with his Uncle Joel’s (a
master carpenter) help, he modified and customized the plans to meet the church’s specific
needs— especially those of the elderly.
Once the Eagle Scout requirements and project are complete, the Scout appears before a board of
review for evaluation of whether the qualifications have been successfully met before advancing
to Eagle Scout.
Cook noted that in becoming an Eagle Scout, Shank has become a “marked man,” assuming a
solemn obligation to God, country, fellow Scouts, and all of mankind. “I charge you to be among
those who dedicate their skills and ability to the common good. Leave behind a record of which
every citizen may be proud.”
Shank’s mother then pinned him with his Eagle Badge. He presented parent pins to his mother
As part of the Eagle Scout ceremony, Shank also presented mentor pins to three individuals who
had been instrumental in helping him to achieve the Eagle Scout rank. He chose his long-time
pastor, Bryan Ratliff, his uncle Joel Shank, who assisted him with his Eagle Scout project, and
Scoutmaster Brian Cook, who has not only been his Scoutmaster, but his mentor and a great
“inspiration to me with his wisdom, his military career, and his outstanding leadership.”
Pastor Ratliff thanked Shank for choosing to focus his Eagle Scout Project on the needs of
Clearbrook Baptist where “you will leave a lasting legacy and impression at the church through
the benches you have built that show how hard work pays off.”
Tammy Shank thanked all of those who had supported not just Christian, but all Scouts in the
troop, through the years. She thanked the church and the leaders of Troop 235 who have “no idea
the impact your have had on Christian. You have all sacrificed your time as a labor of love for
the Scouts. You deserve a million dollars for what you have given.”
She read excerpts from letters of congratulations Shank has received from dignitaries such as
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, former President George W. Bush, and Edward Thomas Jr., Air
Force Major General (Retired).
Lt. Col. Dave King from the Military Order of the World Wars also presented Shank with a
certificate from the Roanoke Valley Chapter MOWW and a commemorative U.S. Space Force
coin recognizing his achievements. (Shank is considering a career in the United States Air
Congratulations to Christian and his family!