Happy Memorial Day!

Good afternoon,

I hope that you are having a memorable Memorial Day weekend with family and friends. If you are like me, I assumed that the tradition of this day began from reflecting back on one of the World Wars, but in fact it began much earlier than that. While there is some disagreement on the site of the first observance of Memorial Day, it is agreed that the practice of honoring those who died protecting our freedoms was in place by 1866. At least a half dozen cities in both the North and the South claim to be the ‘birthplace’ of Memorial Day. One of the first was in Mississippi, when local women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were graves of Union soldiers falling into neglect because they were, of course, the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare earthen mounds, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves as well. In 1868 when the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) established May 30 as an official ‘Decoration Day’, and held a ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery, they proclaimed ‘Let no neglect, nor ravages of time, testify to the present or coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.’ Then, as now, small American flags were placed on every grave – a practice still held at national cemeteries throughout the country.

Once again this weekend, T648 was well represented in honoring our veterans in this very way. At the National Memorial Cemetery, as in past years we have attended, there were many hundreds of scouts, scout leaders and families gathered in the cool air for a brief ceremony, reflection, and work. At 0705 hole punchers and bundles of American flags were distributed, and the crowd fanned out. I’ve often felt that from 30,000 feet, the event must look like an ant farm or a bee hive with the swarm intent upon covering every inch of the workplace without rushing, but with respectful, relentless efficiency. The 28 members from our troop pitched in, and by 0735 every one of the almost 50,000 graves had two feet worth of American Flag snapping smartly in the breeze, well in time for our national anthem to be played at 0800. Once again as we departed, it gave me chills to see the sea of waving red white and blue, and I gave thanks once more for the millions who have served to keep us free.

This week we are on summer vacation, but not from scouting! Tomorrow night is our troop meeting, and the focus will be on getting the patrols ready for summer camp (flags, yells, uniforms, merit badge books, etc). The next two meetings will also be preparation, but for different reasons – our CPR certification class on the 3rd (please bring $20), and our Summer Court of Honor on the 10th. Please be working to finish up any rank advancements or troop merit badges this week if you are planning to include them in the COH. Also on the 3rd will be our monthly PLC meeting, as well as a Troop Committee meeting for all parents and adult leaders. This coming weekend is our backpacking trip to Fossil Springs – a 3 ½ mile hike down switch backs to a canyon full of swimming holes with rope swings, sliding rocks, and a small lake below an old dam. The temperatures should be perfect for hiking in the cool mornings and swimming during the warm afternoon. Please let young Mr. Hart know you are planning to join us for what should be a fabulous outing.

Do you also realize that in three short weeks we will already be at sumer camp up in the cool pines of Camp Geronimo? On the 14th of June we will be leaving from the church early in the morning, having our individual sack brunches in a park in Payson, and be looking to be one of the first troops to check in around noon. We will be up there all week having a most excellent time, striving once again for another Big G Gold troop award, and arriving home happy, but tired and in dire need of a shower the following Saturday, the 21st. I can’t wait!

See you tomorrow at the troop meeting,

Mr. Cole