Gerald R Ford, Eagle Scout, 1929
Every President since its 1910 founding has served as the honorary chairman of the Boy Scouts of America.
Teddy Roosevelt, newly ex-President in 1910 was given the unique title of “Chief Scout Citizen.”
5 Presidents, or half of the Presidents that could have been Scouts, were actually Scouts:
John F Kennedy, Star Scout, 1930
John F Kennedy, the first President born in the 20th Century, was the first who was a Boy Scout as a youth. He rose to the rank of Star.
Gerald Ford was the first and only Eagle Scout to become President.
Bill Clinton and George W Bush were both Cub Scouts.
Barack Obama was a member of the Indonesian Scout Association; he was the equivalent of a Cub Scout.
The link below chronicles the support of Scouting rendered by all Presidents, from Teddy Roosevelt forward.
Scouting.org: Presidents Fact Sheet
Being a Scout is expensive. I’ve seen the parent walk into the store with camping gear and plunk down the plastic to buy their young man whatever he needs.
But that’s not doing it the right way.
Here’s another approach, which I read courtesy of Ed Darrell over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: a letter from a future President asking for more allowance.
John Fitzgerald Kennedy was our first President who was a Scout as a youth. He rose to the rank of Star Scout, and later served on the Executive Board of the Boston Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Here’s a (very poor) picture of him as a Scout.
John F Kennedy as a Scout in 1930.
President Kennedy receiving Boy Scout greeting – December, 1962 (photo courtesy John Loengard, Life Magazine)
President Kennedy described Scouting:
“For more than 50 years, Scouting has played an important part in the lives of the Boy Scouts of this nation. It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys, and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future.”
President John F. Kennedy Visits with the Boy Scouts’ “Scouting Family of the Year”, February 8, 1962.
President John F. Kennedy meets with the Fair family, a representative family selected as “Scouting Family of the Year” by the Boy Scouts of America, in conjunction with Boy Scout Week. L-R: Grant, Bill, and Bob Fair (order undetermined); Martha Fair; President Kennedy; Jane Swift Fair; Harry G. Fair. Fish Room, White House, Washington, D.C. Photographer: Robert L Knudsen.
One of John Wayne’s last public appearances was at a Scouting fundraiser. His cancer was advanced, but he appeared at this dinner to help fund a new Boy Scout camp which would be called the John Wayne Outpost Camp. This camp belongs to the Los Angeles Area Council.
In his presentation, Mr. Wayne recited the Scout Law, and then said the twelve points are “nice words”. “Trouble is” he continued, “we learn them so young we sometimes don’t get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age, I make sure he learns the Scout Law. Then I break it down for him, with a few things I have picked up in more than half a century since I learned it.”
Here’s what John Wayne said:
The badge of honesty. Having it lets you look at any man in the eye. Lacking it, he won’t look back. Keep this one at the top of your list.
The very word is life itself; for without loyalty we have no love of person or country
Part sharing, part caring. By helping each other, we help ourselves; not to mention mankind. Be always full of help — the dying man’s last words.
Brotherhood is part of that word. You can take it in a lot of directions – and do – but make sure and start with brotherhood.
Allow each person his human dignity; which means a lot more than saying, “Yes, ma’am” and “Thank you, sir.” It reflects an attitude that later in life you wish you had honored more… earlier in life. Save yourself that problem. Do it now.
This one word would stop wars and erase hatreds. But it’s like your bicycle, it’s just no good unless you get out and use it.
Starts at home. Practice it in your family. Enlarge it in your friends. Share it with humanity.
Anyone can put on a happy face when the going is good. The secret is to wear it as a mask for your problems. It might surprise you how many others do the same thing.
Means a lot more than putting pennies away; and it is the opposite of cheap. Common sense covers it just about as well as anything.
You don’t have to fight to be brave. Millions of good, fine, decent folks show more bravery than heavyweight champs just by getting out of bed every morning, going out to do a good day’s work, and living the best life they know how against the law of odds. Keep the word handy every day of your life.
Soap and water helps a lot on the outside. But it is the inside that counts, and don’t ever forget it.
Believe in anything that you want to believe in, but keep God at the top of it. With Him, life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you are just biding time.
Mr. Wayne then thanked the Scouters in attendance, and expressed his appreciation for the new camp that would be named after him. He then said, “I would rather see it here than on all the theater marquees the world over.”
The 12 points of the Scout Law
When Lauren went away to college, scheduling our Christmas tree expedition became an annual dance with every family member’s calendar. Now that she’s home, the family’s schedule is much easier — which meant getting Lauren’s new niece to the Christmas Tree farm was very important this year!
The tiniest things can become traditions. And with children, those tiniest things are supremely important.
Anything can be a tradition! Anything. Holidays seems to bring them out for everyone, but really anything can become a tradition:
- When we drove 32 miles to St Joseph (which was a big deal in my small world growing up), we usually stopped at the Dairy Queen in Savannah for a treat. Nobody makes banana splits like those anymore!
- When Velda and I were dating, we had a booth that we had to sit at when we went to our favorite bar restaurant, The Heidelberg. It happened to be booth # 13 … one of many 13s that followed us through our courtship … until we were married on May 13.
- Christmas mornings were a time of wonder for our young family. The Christmas tree was very lonely in our living room … until Christmas Eve night, when Santa delivered all of the presents after the kids went to bed! Bedtime was negotiated fiercely every year … and the time kids could venture downstairs Christmas morning was also negotiated!
Why are traditions so important?
Traditions are comforting, like a chair that is just right for you. We like repetition, and it can make us feel very good when we know what’s coming. The anticipation of familiarity is very satisfying. We want things to be just like we remember them. We want to control our environment so that we can make it predictable.
Traditions teach values. One of my favorite traditions in Scouting is to carry ashes from campfire to campfire … symbolically uniting that night’s campfire with every campfire that had preceded it since the tradition began. Scouting campfires are important … and here’s a ceremony I used that helped make sure that the Scouts and Scouters understood that importance:
Legend has it that Baden-Powell would always take a small amount of ashes from a ceremonial campfire and then spread these ashes into the next campfire. The main purpose of these ashes is to share with you the memories of past campfires and to bring all Scouts and Scouters together in the world brotherhood of Scouting.
The ashes I spread into this campfire carry memories of past campfires dating back to Brownsea Island in July of 1907, the first Boy Scout camp. They have been carried around the world to almost 400 Scouting campfires in many countries where Scouting fellowship has been shared. The ashes came to me in 1996 at Camp Thunderbird near Seattle, and first came to Pack 575 at Hart Park in September of 1996. I will now add these ashes to this campfire. Lord Baden-Powell said:
”We carry our friendships with us in these ashes from other campfires with comrades in other lands. May the joining of the past fires with the leaping flames of this campfire, symbolize once more the unbroken chain that binds Scouts and guides all nations together. With greetings from our brothers and sisters around the world, I add these ashes, and the fellowship therein, to our campfire.”
Every time I used that ceremony, it was an emotional, memorable moment. Traditions work.
People who share in a tradition are connected. There’s a reason that families use Grandma’s silver at holiday meals. There’s a reason that going out to dinner when a family member has a birthday is important. Those memories tie us together. Sharing life’s memories together fills us with warmth and happiness.
Build some memories with your family, extended family and friends. It could be going for a walk on Saturday mornings, the family lunch after church on Sunday, or sharing opening day of baseball season with your buddy. It could be anything.
And it will be a treasured memory.
One tradition I’ve seen repeated at several nursing school graduations is the lighting of candles to commemorate the sharing of knowledge. Here, shared by the Antelope Valley College nurse graduates, December 2012. My favorite part of this picture is the glow of the various cellphone and camera screens from the audience at the bottom of the pic!
Heart of the Matter
I started this blog with no one’s permission. It’s just like when you were a teenager: if you don’t ask permission, no one can say no.
The blog was launched last June — for fun! — and I’m having fun. By the fact that you’re reading this, I assume you’re enjoying the blog as well — at least on the good days.
In celebration of MowryJournal’s 100th post (can you believe it???) on its 146th day of existence, I’m going to list 25 things you don’t know about me. Well, you won’t know all of them.
1. I decided early on I was not a farmer. My Grandfather had my sister and I help harvest potatoes one year, and our reward (?) was to raise some runt pigs for market. Runts wouldn’t survive on their own; they needed the personal care that we apparently were expected to provide. The pigs were eventually sold at the St Joseph, MO stockyards, and I eventually learned I was not a pig farmer.
2. Car accident # 1: I was a passenger, and we had a head-on collision with a snow plow.
3. I was the student council president for the Nodaway-Holt Trojans, class of ’74. Our big accomplishment: we got a soda machine for the students. This would be illegal in California today.
4. Worst meal of my life: dinner, January 30, 1983. Christopher was weakening (1 day old but 2 months premature) and had just been put on a ventilator. I went to the hospital cafeteria for dinner alone and literally tasted ashes in my mouth. And the food was not burnt.
5. I grew up admiring Mr. & Mrs EA Pence, who went to my church. They also attended the Blue & Gold Banquets every year for my Cub Scout Pack and Boy Scout Troop. Mr. Pence had a Silver Beaver award. I didn’t know what it meant when I was 10 years old, but I knew he was an important Scouter and deserved my respect. I never put on my Silver Beaver without thinking of Mr. Pence.
6. My first college dorm was the first place I lived in with a shower.
7. Largest amount of money I’ve been given for a single idea: $450,000. Largest contact I’ve implemented: $2.1 million. Today’s sales: $13,027.
8. # jobs while working through college: 8. Carpenter, landscaper, electrician, bookseller, lighting designer, follow spot operator, bartender/dish washer, door-to-door accordion lesson salesman.
9. To “pay” for the feed that was needed to raise those runt pigs, I had to take the family out to dinner. We went to the truck stop on the 5 Mile Corner, near Maryville, MO. I remember paying the waitress’ tip in nickels … and it would have been a 15% tip.
10. Car Accident # 2: My car was hit by a parked vehicle. Willard Fincham didn’t properly set the gearshift for his 1/2 ton truck when he parked it on Main Street in front of Speck Dougan’s store in Graham, MO. The truck bed was filled with concrete blocks. The truck slipped into neutral and rolled down the hill to hit the left rear fender of Grandma’s cherished ’59 Oldsmobile Super 88 before I could get parked & out of the way. I then had to muster my 16-year-old courage and tell Grandma what I had done. It was not a good day.
11. Wackiest job ever: age 16, and teaching 70+ 11-year-olds how to cook shish kabob skewers over open fires that they had to build. Thank goodness raw beef isn’t toxic, or there would have been many sick 2nd class Scouts at Camp Geiger in 1972.
12. All 3 of our kids are still with their high school sweethearts. Makes some sense: Velda and I became an item when we were 18. However, that means we were actually older than the kids were when we started dating.
13. The best job in Scouting for an adult? Cubmaster. You’re the leader of Pack Meetings, and you’re one part ringmaster, one part magician and one part general. You are adored by 7-year-olds. Even the 10-year-old Webelos tend to be on good behavior around you.
14. Think you know fear? I remember being 6 years old and having to make trips to the outhouse in the dark, armed with nothing but a flashlight. We lived in the country, of course, so no street lights, and some things really DID go bump in the night. And when the dogs came tearing out of the darkness to see who was in their yard … I knew fear.
Here I am feeding my new calves, Hessie & Bessie.
15. After deciding there was no money in pig farming, I took the cash from selling my pigs and bought two Holstein calves. Purchased from the Hesnault Farm, I named them Hessie & Bessie. My visions of profits evaporated when one proved barren and the other lost her first calf. My livestock dreams ended when we sold the farm the next year, and moved into the big city of Graham, MO, then with a population of 213.
16. Best theatrical role: Noble the Lion in Reynard the Fox at the University of Missouri, 1979. I wore yellow tights and a brown taffeta mane. Yes, I am thankful no pictures have survived. Starring role: Tom Destry in Destry Rides Again, a role played by Andy Griffith in the movie. For the good of humanity, my list of theatrical appearances is mercifully short. I did not belong on the stage; my skills were better used in directing and lighting design.
Yes, that’s a 4″x4″ white bandage covering my head wound in our wedding pictures.
17. Car Accident # 3: Six days before my wedding, I had a head-on collision with a 1/2 ton Chevy pickup, totaling both it and my new VW Rabbit. All my fault.
18. Least favorite college course: psychology. # of our children that majored in psychology: 2.
19. Like too many woodworkers, I had an accident with my table saw. I was building our new kitchen cabinets, using the saw without the proper safety shields — like a stupid person. Today, I don’t remove safety shields from power tools. My little finger, which is about 98% effective after two operations, recommends you do the same.
20. The most fun I have is at the dinner table with Velda’s cooking & our family.
Half Dome in Yosemite National Park
21. Best National Park I’ve visited: Yosemite. I also love Sequoia, which is a close second. I have many more to visit, however.
22. Worst alarm clock I’ve ever had: the 8am tap dancing class that was on the stage next to the room Velda and I had been given to live in for the summer. We were on staff at a summer dance/arts/theater camp for ages 12 – college. We called it a “honeymoon.” We were “wrong.”
23. I paid the national touring talent prior to their concert performances at Six Flags Magic Mountain for several years. I only had one road manager show me his gun before I paid him. He was just being friendly; he had one of the top Country artists of the early ’80s and he wanted to make sure I understood he was serious. Good times.
24. I worked only briefly as a professional teacher, and it made me a 4th generation teacher in my family. My sister had a long career as a teacher, and now daughter-in-law # 2, MrsMowry in this blog, carries the torch in Gen 5.
25. Why is it we can’t agree on how to spell whiskey? I’m very disappointed that my favorite cocktail might be whiskey, whisky or bourbon, depending on who made it and where they are. Can’t we all just get along?
And that seems like a great place to stop. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere….
My Great-Grandfather James Decker, Grandmother Ruth Decker Shull and Mother Letha Shull all taught in the vicinity of Graham, MO in the fall of 1947.