We are in a very patriotic stretch of the calendar year: Memorial Day just passed, Flag Day (June 14) has arrived and Independence Day is fast approaching. Flag Day commemorates the day the flag of the United States was adopted in 1777. Patriotism is something we encourage Scouts to express year-round – after all, we wear the American flag on our right sleeves because it’s that important to us – but this is a particularly wonderful time for having opportunities to express that value in our communities.
Many Scouts are spending this time of year doing flag-related good turns. Over Memorial Day weekend, Scouts across the country (including in St. Louis and Los Angeles) decorated the graves of veterans with The Stars and Stripes, while others helped their communities show respect by properly retiring American flags that are worn beyond repair.
These actions are a sign of respect for the flag and all it represents – our nation, past and present, it’s values and all the many ways of life that make up the American experience. That respect is something we work hard to teach Scouts. From Cub Scouts onward, flag ceremonies are a frequent part of the Scouting experience. In fact, at the Boy Scout level, learning how to respectfully display and care for the U.S. Flag is required knowledge for rank advancement. So why is respecting the flag such a big deal in Scouting? It’s a part of who we are.
It’s in our law; a Scout is loyal, and respecting the flag expresses loyalty to the United States of America. We show this loyalty by saluting the flag with the Scout salute and using proper handling techniques. Demonstrating this respect is an act of citizenship. Though many of the rights and responsibilities of adult citizens are out of reach for youth members, these are ways Scouts can act as good citizens right now. Beyond that, honoring the flag offers us a time to think about what it means to be an American and to reaffirm our commitment to making our national community the best that it can be.
Happy Flag Day and God bless America!