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50th Anniversary Gettysburg Reunion

When was the Order of the Arrow founded?  Where?

Consider that the answers to those two questions might not be as simple as, “Friday, July 16th 1915” and “Treasure Island.”

As example, in the months and years before July 4th 1776, our founding fathers spent long hours, days, and years – thinking about the kind of nation we would become.  History documents how they began with an idea that evolved to become a full vision.

In the same way, as brothers of the Order of the Arrow, we’ve inherited the fruition of a vision that began some years before that July day on Treasure Island.  Our heritage begins with those events that influenced the life and beliefs of our founders.

Certainly one of those experiences overwhelmed 22 year-old E. Urner Goodman in a world tilting toward the unimaginable violence of the First World War – occurred during the week he spent, with about 500 Scouts and 50,000 veterans on the battlegrounds of Gettysburg, from July 1 - July 4, 1913.

Fifty years earlier brother had literally fought to kill his brother in terrible, bloody battle, on this very ground.  Yet in the summer of 1913, assisted by a service corps of very young Boy Scouts (none had been able to be Scouts for more than three years), these former warriors embraced in spontaneous, unexpected, heartfelt tearful brotherly reunion. 

They forgave each other; they served each other; they laughed and sang together, and in that moment, beginning within each of their hearts, they shone as bright examples to a nation still divided by the bitter division of Civil War. 

Dr. Goodman was at the great reunion serving as one of 14 Scoutmasters.  He lived with these men.  He served them.  And he described them in his own words: 

How can I ever forget that experience? . . .  Imagine . . . veterans gathered on that historic site for a week.  Imagine them shaking hands together . . . where fifty years before they had been blazing away at each other.


There was . . . a real genuine spirit of “peace and goodwill” hovering over the camp.   . . . Words prove feeble in amply describing this great affair.  To really catch the spirit . . . one had to be there.

 One military historian wrote:

Compared with the display of brotherly love, the other effects of the great encampment are robbed of much of their real significance.  . . . The enemies of four years’ bloody fighting wept like children . . .

 And another:

Lifetimes of resentment, grudges, and hate suddenly evaporated in laughter, kindness and brotherly love.  Fifty years of malice was swept away and replaced by understanding.

But perhaps Ken Burns said it best in the following quotation from his PBS documentary The Civil War. (Goodman and his Scouts including the Order’s original guide and guardian of the trail Harry Yoder were there.  Can you be with them?  Can you imagine the impact of experiencing this?)

The great reenactment of Pickett’s charge. . . .  Out of the woods came the Southerners, just as before - well, in some ways just as before.  They came out more slowly this time. . . .  We could see, not rifles and bayonets, but canes and crutches.  We soon could distinguish the more agile ones aiding those less able to maintain their places in the ranks.

Nearer they came, until finally they raised their frightening falsetto scream.  As the Rebel yell broke out after half a century of silence, a moan, a gigantic sigh, a gasp of unbelief, rose from the onlookers.  So “Pickett’s men” came on, getting close at last, throwing that defiant yell up at the stone wall and the clump of trees and the ghosts of the past.

It was then that the Yankees, unable to restrain themselves longer, burst from behind the stone wall, and flung themselves upon their former enemies.  The emotion of the moment was so contagious that there was scarcely a dry eye in the huge throng.  Now they fell upon each other - not in mortal combat, but reunited in brotherly love and affection.

 The Civil War was over.

And the idea of a brotherhood of young men, boys who might, like these aged veterans, one day be called to war, a brotherhood not bound to arms, but of cheerful service to others, one where young men need not wait 50 years to learn the lessons of war – lessons that ultimately inevitably lead as veterans age to forgiveness and brotherhood – was born, at least as an idea, a dream . . . a vision,  in the heart and mind of one 22 year old Scoutmaster, E. Urner Goodman.

1, Founders, Goodman, OA, Scouting

Treasure Island Closes 1913-2008

After 95 years Treasure Island Scout Reservation, the birthplace of our Order in 1915, ceased operation as a summer camp after the 2008 season. At the time of closing Treasure Island was the oldest continually operated Scout camp in the nation. Treasure Island fell victim to its location, an island in the middle of the Delaware River.

The camp over the years had endured floods, but the floods of 2005 and 2006 proved too costly. The camp had re-opened in 2007 and 2008, but the sanitation needs and other improvements necessary to run the camp were too expensive, especially with the risk of another flood.

Volunteers maintain the camp for the local council. Many still hope that the camp that Goodman watched over on that night in 1915 that he kept his vigil will one day serve Scouting again.

2, Founders, Goodman, OA, Scouting

Goodman's 100th Birthday

Goodman’s centennial would have been May 15, 1991. To mark the occasion, the Journal of Scouting History published a biographical essay by Goodman’s friend and protégé, Bill Hillcourt. He wrote of their many years of mutual support and good times together.

He closed:

Urner was my friend, alive, for fifty years. He was, indeed, a GOOD MAN. He is a friend of mine until I die, and a friend of each of you who follow in his footsteps.

3, Founders, Goodman, OA, Scouting

OA Time Capsule Sealed

At the 1990 NOAC during Founder’s Day, lodges and individuals could put items into a special 75th Anniversary time capsule. The capsule was filled with many pieces of Scouting memorabilia and other items of note from 1990.

National Chief John Meckley and National Vice Chief Tony Steinhardt sealed the capsule in a special ceremony. The capsule is to be opened on the 100th Anniversary of the Order in 2015.

2, Founders, Goodman, OA, Scouting

Film Features Goodman

The Closing show at the 1983 NOAC premiered the inspirational film See the Need, a short subject film on the life of E. Urner Goodman. The film contained excerpts from speeches by the founder and scenes of him with Arrowmen. The film was five years in the making and featured the song Meet the Challenge, written and performed by Sam Fairchild. All proceeds from the sale of the film went to the OA Endowment fund.

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Goodman Memorial Service

In the late winter of 1980, while visiting his children in New Jersey, Goodman caught a cold, which turned into pneumonia. He went to Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, where he could have specialists treat him, but he remained in intensive care. He passed away on March 13Portrait of Goodman.

E. Urner GoodmanHe planned his own funeral to include lots of music. It took place at Penney Farms on March 29. National Chief Jeffrie A. Herrmann and National Executive Secretary William F. Downs eulogized the founder. Downs spoke of his leadership as a member of the professional staff of the BSA, and said he was both a gentleman and a gentle man. Taking his cue from the Order’s ceremonies, he ended with the words, 

May the virtues which he represented glow the brighter in our hearts and consciences.

1, Founders, Goodman, OA, Profile, Scouting


Infinity, dear brothers, extends not only outward to the reaches of that clear blue sky… but also inward, to the heart of each human being. E. Urner Goodman 1975 NOAC closing address.

Goodman lived in an era of great change – from horse and buggy days to men on the moon. He also lived a life of great change. He knew much joy – a good childhood with friends and family, a successful career, a loving wife, three wonderful children and the lifelong inspiration of his faith. He also knew much tragedy – the death of his mother and aunt when he was a little boy, months of quarantine for diphtheria, tuberculosis as a young man, and the death of his son George in World War II.

E. Urner GoodmanLike the hero of Baden-Powell’s favorite play, Peter Pan, Goodman was one of the many men who sought to put off growing up by engaging in a life’s work consumed with the things of boyhood – outdoor fun among good friends, acting chivalrous by helping others, giving everyone a chance to play, being loud and silly. Thus was the Scouter rewarded in his work with youth.

He had mastered the art of leadership, and had success after success professionally and with the Order of the Arrow, because he gave away to others the opportunity to be in charge, to exercise authority, to be creative, to take responsibility.

He was loved by all because of his self-effacing manner and his desire to do what was best for others, putting his own needs last. Always a peacemaker among Scouters, George’s death convinced him that world brotherhood was a worthy goal.

As he said at the end of his career with BSA:

I had indeed found my life mission… . Those 36 years of professional service, 16 years as Executive in Philadelphia and Chicago, and 20 years as national program director, brought rich rewards, far beyond any salary considerations. They represented the work, above all others, that I wanted to do.

1, Founders, Goodman, OA, Profile, Scouting

Goodman Receives Silver Buffalo Award

The BSA awarded E. Urner Goodman the Silver Buffalo in 1954. Three years earlier, Missouri Valley College had awarded him an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

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Goodman Honorary National Chief

On September 13, 1951 the National OA Committee voted to bestow the title of “Honorary National Chief” on Dr. E. Urner Goodman. Thirty years earlier Goodman had served Wimachtendienk, W.W. as its first Grand Lodge Chieftain, later called National Chief. This honor was made in tribute to the Founder upon his retirement from the BSA.

A calfskin was presented to Goodman by National OA Committee Chairman H. Lloyd Nelson inscribed,

He Gave to Boyhood a Brotherhood of Cheer and Service”.

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Goodman Retires

After 36 years of service for the Boy Scouts of America, E Urner Goodman retired as a professional Scouter. He had served as Director of Program for twenty years. Goodman’s professional career had started in 1915 when as a 23 year old he was hired by the Philadelphia Council to be a Field Commissioner (now known as Field Executive). He served as Camp Director at Treasure Island Scout Reservation where he started the Order.

Goodman had hinted for several years that he was considering retirement. The Brotherhood Barn had been built in Vermont where Goodman intended to retire. Goodman continued his support and devotion to leadership and service to the Order for another three decades following his retirement.

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Brotherhood Barn Fireplace Completed

In 1950 a massive fireplace was completed in E. Urner Goodman’s “Brotherhood Barn” located in the Green Mountains of Vermont. The fireplace project had begun in 1948 as a tangible recognition of the admiration all Arrowmen had for the Order’s founder.

National Chairman G. Kellock Hale, Jr. and Robert H. Heistand, 1946 National Chief (as an adult) and member of the National OA Committee, shepherded the gift project. Much to Goodman’s surprise, in late 1948 and early 1949, heavy packages with postmarks from all over the country started showing up at Goodman’s Vermont retreat. The packages contained stones that were marked with the sending lodge’s name and in some cases the lodge’s number that would eventually be assembled into a fireplace. Lodges were also asked to write and mail their histories to Hale and make a contribution (if they decided to do so) of $3.00 to help with the construction of the fireplace.

The “Brotherhood Barn”, where the fireplace was built, was also of significance to the Order. In its time, it served as a “hostel for Brothers” that took the journey to Vermont. As quoted from a letter to Goodman, after visiting the barn,

 . . . speaking of the fireplace, it is a masterpiece of craftsmanship, and something we all should be proud of.

The fireplace project and completion of the fireplace was meant to serve as a cheerful reminder to our founder that ten’s of thousand’s of boys and men shared his idea of true brotherhood among men. This is where there would always continue to burn the fire of brotherhood that was kindled thirty-five years before.

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Goodman & Edson's Sons Killed in WW II

(Do we) find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down
Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down
Find the cost of freedom buried in the ground

- lyrics Find the Cost of Freedom by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Having both lived and served through the Great War as young men, the most horrific of personal losses struck the co-founders of the Order of the Arrow in a five week period during World War II.

Both then-Lt. Col. Carroll Edson and E. Urner Goodman lost sons in combat in neighboring corners of the war in Europe.

In October 1944 First Lieutenant Stuart Partridge Edson – Partridge was his mother’s maiden name -- was serving as the Adjutant for the 23rd Armored Infantry Battalion in the area of Overloon, The Netherlands. The 24-year-old Eagle Scout was the Edson’s oldest son.

In those duties Lt. Edson had just signed the official After Action Report of the Battalion for the month of September on 4 Oct. 1944 (military dates place the date first then the month then the year) – placing him near the fluid front, which had degenerated into almost trench warfare.

Lt. Edson and Tech Sgt Norman D. Penn, his driver, were driving from the rear area, at night, to the front line in newly acquired territory. While the territory was a flat area it was festooned with trees and hedges and constantly peppered with shrapnel, rifle and machinegun fire. In the darkness, driving upon unfamiliar roads they apparently took a wrong turn and went missing.

It was not until after the war, when Lt. Col. Carroll Edson urged a British area major who was the administrator for the liberated area to attempt to locate Lt. Edson’s remains. He found them, not in one of the many temporary military graveyards, but in the Trans-Cedron Roman Catholic Cemetery at Oostrum. In August of 1945. The grave was marked with a cross that read "Lt. Stuart Edson / 7 Americk Pz. D. / Born 20/6/1920 / Died 5/10/1944 (European dates feature the day before the month - October 5, 1944).

Interviews with three residents in the area determined that a German soldier, apparently driving a motorbike, brought Lt. Edson’s body to the Marten family in Oostrum. He explained that the officer had died during transit. Lt. Edson’s remains were subsequently relocated to a military cemetery on 5 March 1946.

While Stuart Partridge Edson and Norman D. Penn were dying in Holland, Private First Class George Goodman and his fellow infantrymen of the 324th Infantry Regiment, 44th Infantry Division, were fighting their way towards the German border just above its convergence with Switzerland. PFC Goodman, the youngest son of E. Urner and Louise Goodman, was fighting with the Company B on 14 November 1944 Bravo Company near Embermanil, France.

As he advanced across open terrain towards an enemy-held woods, Private First Class Goodman, acting scout for his squad, was hit in the leg by a sniper’s bullet. He immediately returned the fire, either killing or wounding the enemy sniper. During this action a hostile machinegun located on the edge of the woods opened fire on his squad. With complete disregard for his own safety, Private First Class Goodman gallantly charged the enemy machine gun nest, firing his rifle as he limped into the hail of enemy fire. The courage and fighting spirit displayed by Private First Class Goodman are in keeping with the finest traditions of the Armed Forces. Private First Class Goodman was later reported fatally wounded as a result of this action.

-General Orders Number 182, 8 May 1945 Award, Posthumous, of the Distinguished-Service Cross.

The Distinguished Service Cross is the second highest award for valor awarded by the U.S. Department of the Army exceeded only by the Congressional Medal of Honor. PFC Goodman’s body lies in rest in the American Military Cemetery at Epinal, France.

It is ironic that both Goodman and Edson, two men that devoted their lifetime to serving the young men of America, lost their own young sons in service to the country.

2, Founders, George Goodman, Goodman, OA, Scouting, Stuart Edson