FAITH AND FAMILY STRONG … Eagle Scout Luis Ayala, second from left, cites his family, father Carlos at left, brother Justin second from right, and mother Joen at right, as, “…really important to me.” He also says that, “Faith is what helps me be who I am.” (PHOTO BY TIMOTHY KAYS, STAFF)
(Story originally appeared July 25th, 2018)
By: Timothy Kays
He serves in his church, Life Changing Realities Fellowship. He serves as an Adult Leader for Boy Scout Troop 669. He is about to enter his senior year at Hilltop High School. He is patriotic. He has only spoken English for five years, but he’s better at it than a lot of us who’ve grown up with it.
May I introduce you to eighteen year old Luis Ayala, a young man whose determination has brought him to the pinnacle of the Boy Scouts…the Eagle Scout. “I joined in when I was 13, and I’ve been there ever since,” he said.
His Eagle project reflected his patriotism, if only on a local level. “I created a flag retirement box for my church, since my church has a lot of veterans,” Luis said. “I was talking with one of them, and they were telling me that they were starting to run out of space in their Legion for the flags that were a little worn off and to be destroyed. I told him that I could build a box so they can put them there and then later, when it was a little bit full, I will go and pick them up. I will have a ceremony with my troop, so that they aren’t taking up space in their Legion.”
Sadly, the society of today tends to see Scouting as antiquated and uncool. Despite the societal currents, Luis has become a role model through his determination and leadership. “I think it’s keeping yourself positive all the time,” he said. “We don’t seem to fit in anymore for most of the people. They don’t see the Boy Scouts as how they were seen in years before. For me, it’s not as hard to be the role model. Yeah, some of my teachers have done that, and some police officers.”
“I helped with the D.A.R.E. Camp every summer with Deputy Paul McCord. He’s one of the persons that first saw me as a role model as a Boy Scout. He was the first person that saw me as a leader apart from my Troop.” Swimming upstream against the currents of society is seldom easy. “It takes a little bit of effort for myself at least,” Luis said. “Sometimes it just depends. I train myself to keep myself and my friends safe, showing them that I care.”
For over a century, Scouting has bound together faith and family, with the rigid discipline of the Scout Law. Luis is a shining example of the outcome. “For myself,” he began, “I will say the Scout Law keeps me going as a person. Being trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent…those 12 points. They help me to help another person become a better person.”
Continuing, he said, “My family’s really important; they’re all I have.” Gesturing to his brother Justin, and his parents Carlos and Joen, he continued, “Here’s my family, but the rest of my family’s in Mexico. So these three people that you see here, they’re all I have here. I don’t get to see my grandma and my cousins. I don’t see them at all. I get to talk to them maybe once a week.”
“Family’s really important to me, but even more when you don’t see them. Once you don’t have them next to you, it’s quite hard not to see them again. Faith is what helps me be who I am. I mean, I don’t know what I would be without Jesus in my life. I was glad that my parents took me to church when I was nine for the first time. I’ve always wanted to learn more and more.”
The Junior Wyse Post 669 of the American Legion recently honored Luis with their selection to be a delegate to Buckeye Boys State. The excitement in his voice could not be disguised as he recalled the events and new friends that came from the experience.
“I want to pay my respects to the Legionnaires,” he said, trying to find the words to match what was in his heart and mind. “I cannot say…my words are not enough to thank them. I’m really grateful that they gave me a chance to be a delegate for Buckeye Boys State.”
Entering into his senior year as a Hilltop Cadet, Luis has options that he wants to pursue, but those options are not set in stone just yet. “For now, I’m planning to get a degree in animal science, to become an animal scientist,” he said. “After that…just working on a farm. That’s what I’ve been planning.” There’s also the possible option of military service, but Luis is balancing Air Force service against college.
For right now, Luis Ayala is a happy high school kid from West Unity, Ohio. He loves his country, his family and his school. His favorite subject? “I love my American History with Ms. (Janice) Brunner. It’s my favorite class. I love learning about history; it’s one of the things that I really like.” If you have an interest in the American roles of World War II, Luis is the guy you want to talk with.
To those youngsters who are coming of the age where Cub Scouting is becoming available, Luis has some keen insights for you. “Everything’s possible if you put your mind into it,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of people that were in Cub Scouts. Most of my friends joined Cub Scouts, and they dropped out because they didn’t seem to like it after they finished.”
“Boy Scouts wasn’t as fun as Cub Scouts was. But I think that giving yourself the opportunity to do something new can open doors to a lot of different things. I’m not saying that I did became an Eagle just to get the benefits of it. I was talking to some army and military recruiters. They said that for me, starting as just a normal high school graduate, I would start as an E1.”
“Just being an Eagle, I go straight to an E3, so I get promotions just for being an Eagle. We get scholarships…so many things, so many benefits that some people might not seem to realize that they’re out there. I know that Cubbies don’t know anything about that, but I will say just keep up and not give up, because it’s a good program.”
“Boy Scouts is a great program that gives American citizens and about anyone an opportunity to become a better citizen.”
Timothy can be reached at email@example.com