In 1918 during WWI and only several years after the Boy Scouts of America were founded, President Woodrow Wilson was able to write, “The patriotic and effective service of the Boy Scouts in your definitely planned program of war work activities is a splendid testimonial to the value of organized boyhood in helping our country win the war.”

The Scouts also served in a larger manner in WWII. How many of you glued together a model airplane during your youth? Do any of you know why the Revell Company started producing their model airplane kits in the scale of 1 to 72? I can tell you. It was at the request of then Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox. The reason? A model airplane in the scale of 1 to 72 seen at 35 feet is identical to that same real aircraft seen from the air at 1/2 mile. The Secretary asked the Scouts to help by “accurately and precisely” reproducing model airplanes in this scale. This effort was able to afford cadet flyers in training practice in both range and aircraft identification. BSA National encouraged Scouts to participate using the motto “Be a salvage commando!” Scouts spread the word that one old shovel recycled would help make four hand grenades, one worn out wash pail could make three bayonets and an old lawnmower was good for six three-inch shells. Scouts also bought war bonds with money that they had saved or earned. Scouts have never stopped pitching in and they continue that tradition today.

Without much fanfare Eagle Scout Projects are continuously being planned and implemented. Local charities are being assisted, flagpoles appear and are maintained in new locations, baseball diamonds are refurbished, and so many other projects come to mind that the list is just too long to be comprehensive. The reason that these projects are being carried out to benefit the community is not for the Scouts to blow their own horn and seek personal recognition, but it is because these Scouts are well grounded in character, maturity, and community service without all the fanfare.

Has anyone ever seen a can of Silly String? It is a child’s toy that can be quite popular with kids. It is also quite popular with our troops in Iraq and some Scout Units are collecting cans of that Silly String to send to our service people in Iraq. And it is most certainly not because the Troops are bored and need toys to play with. People that fill hazardous jobs such as military and police are well acquainted with the fact that a doorway is normally referred to as a “vertical coffin” because they are so hazardous to deal with. In Iraq a patrol conducting military operations on urban terrain (MOUNT) will most likely have a can of that silly string with them when they approach a doorway. A short blast of that simple lightweight foam toy will hang up on even the thinnest tripwire and alert our forces to a booby-trapped entry. I frequently wonder just who is ingenious enough to come up with these things.

But Scouts don’t just do wars. Boy Scouts were immediately on scene in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina and they filled many positions that left other older and more qualified individuals get their jobs done with the minimum amount of distraction possible. The Scouts participation provided a buffer that allowed first responders, doctors, hospitals, the Red Cross, and military personnel to get their jobs done more effectively.

In fact it seems that whenever help is needed, sooner or later a Boy Scout or a Boy Scout Unit will show up. Frequently you will not even know that it was a Scout that just held the door open for you or asked if you needed assistance in some manner. That’s just the way they are, and always have been.

The Waynedale News Staff

Gary McOmber

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