Saturday, August 14, 2010

A thousand high fives a day quota

One of the great things about attending the Jamboree was being surrounded by the young men and women that find patriotism not to be passe or a trend, but inherent in their everyday lives. Their support, admiration and affection of the military was inspiring and humbling. As I was walking down the hot paved road against the wall of Scouts and leaders pushing the other way I would be awakened from my heat-induced, walking slumber with the near cry, “high five,” only to get my hand up, most times, just in time to slap the sweaty hand of a young Scout.

If you attended any of the Arena Shows it would be apparent from the beginning what their stance was on the military. A speaker didn’t get up without first thanking the military for their support of the Jamboree or sacrifice to our country in this time of war. The fact that these young people are raised to support and respect the military with unfettered infatuation, honestly, puts pressure on me to act appropriately as we walk the grounds of the Jamboree taking photos of the military supporting this great event.

We are demi-gods in our own right to them because we are the end personification of the goal of the Boy Scouts. We, in flesh and uniform, are the the commitment of service to one’s community and country that is the keystone of scouting. “On my honor, I will do my best, to do my duty, to God and my Country,” is the beginning of the Scout Oath.

“I want to be an Army Ranger,” said many of the young men. “I’m going to join the [insert branch here],” was heard many times over the course of two weeks. While the admiration and support is great, the innocence of it disturbed me until I saw something at the opening Arena Show. I can’t remember the speaker but the man at the front of the 50,000 Scouts and leaders asked them all to give a hand in support of the military supporting the Jamboree and protecting them overseas. Then, as if that wasn’t touching enough, he asked that all of those who have a relative currently serving in the Armed Forces please stand, and with that nearly 3/5ths of the audience rose.

That’s when I realized most of these young people not only get it but they live it. They live the sacrifice of missing a parent for a year or more at a time. They live the sacrifice of a parent missing life’s minor and major events. Some are even living the pain of dealing with a family member returning from war scarred physically or mentally. Their admiration is unfettered and made stronger not out of a lack of consciousness of those sacrifices but because of them. Their is no innocence in that admiration. They aren’t just drinking the Kool-Aid their parents gave them. At the end of the day, if I count them all up, I gave maybe a hundred or more high fives to kids who need it or deserve it more than me, and accepted them on behalf of my brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces, many of whom, certainly, need or deserve one more than me, then so be it, sore hand and all. “High five!” Smack!

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