Flags & patriotism -Reply
Stan Hodge (STANH@MAIL.TDOC.TEXAS.GOV)
Tue, 9 Jul 1996 13:51:43 -0600
Bob Robinson asked "How have other units tried to instill a "reverence"
and appreciation for Flag & country that many of us 'old timers' feel
during a moving flag ceremony or parade.
We participated in several flag ceremonies and placing flags on veterans
graves at out National Cemetary, but the scouts treated these 'patriotic'
activities with a casualness and joviality that I find bothersome."
I'm not sure you can expect them to behave with the same reverence
and appreciation that we feel. You can't just open them up and pour it in.
They haven't had the experiences we have had. To them, America is
just a place (in their mind not much different from any other) and the flag
is a piece of cloth that identifies that place. Most have not lost a loved
one or suffered any deprivation or traveled sufficiently to make any
judgements of the differences around the world.
That is why we need to provide special experiences that will be
memorable and meaningful at their level.
I think putting out the flags at a veterans cemetery is particularly
meaningful. But you can't just go and do it. You have to make it
important -- not only as a job but important for them. I always found a big
tree to sit under and talk about what this cemetery was, and who was
buried here. I bore my testimony of my love for these men and women
who had served me and preserved my country when it was in danger.
They did for me what I could not do and it's important that we remember
them for that. Not long. Five to seven minutes. And if you feel a tear or
two coming on don't try to stop it. Even cub scouts will recognize it as a
token of your sincerity. Don't preach, just be sincere. Don't read, let it
come from your heart. Words aren't important. Feelings are.
Then tell them that this is one way we remember them -- to put this
special flag at each headstone to say thank you, we remember. In doing
this, the cub scouts, boy scouts are now doing something for these
veterans that they cannot do for themselves and so serving with great
After finishing we would sit beneath the tree again and talk briefly about
what had happened and how we FELT. And again, tears would flow
from my eyes as I bandaged little hands that now bore blisters the size
of silver dollars from pushing many more flags into the hard earth than
their hands could take. But these were badges of honor -- not one
complained of his wounds.
Another thing I did was invite the honor guard from a nearby military
base to come and explain what they did and demonstrate how they
folded a flag and so on. Again this has to be set up so boys can FEEL
as well as see. Why does everything HAVE to be perfect for a military
funeral? We found it to be a very successful activity.
Troop 227, Denver Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City