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Mystery Eagle Scout saves a life

Long-time readers know that I have enormous affection for Scouting, and I will definitely link out to bring you a story. Here is a post by Bryan Wendell, from his blog BryanOnScouting (which I read every day, even though Bryan doesn’t know it).

Help find the mystery Eagle Scout who saved a life in California

ScreenHunter_311 Sep. 13 15.26Joshua Allen and his family were on vacation in the Stanislaus National Forest near Yosemite National Park when Josh fell over a waterfall and needed to be rescued. He later learned he had broken nine ribs and punctured his lung.

A mystery man — an Eagle Scout, it turned out — saved Josh’s life, delicately pulling him from the water. And now Josh and his wife, Anna, are trying to identify the hero so they can properly thank him.

Read the rest of the story at BryanOnScouting.

And here’s a second story from Bryan’s blog, about another incident this summer where Scouts helped a hiker who was burned while camping.





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Not found in the Flag Code

What the Flag Code doesn’t say

ScreenHunter_251 Jun. 24 15.44

There were a lot of news stories last week about flag retirement ceremonies, held in conjunction with Flag Day. Here are excerpts from three that I found especially troubling due to misinformation.  I edited them to remove names and other identifying information because I like these people and I don’t want to embarrass them: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the American Legion.

What the Flag Code says about retiring our American flag is short and succinct:

§8. Respect for flag:  (k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

We are given great latitude in how we conduct flag retirements. I am very grateful to the organizations that conduct these ceremonies; it is an honorable and welcome service that they perform. But imagine my surprise when I found a news story about a flag retirement ceremony that said this,

“ … the scouts recently participated in a flag retirement ceremony. This ceremony is necessary when a flag has become too worn to be displayed. In these cases, the respectful way to dispose of the  flag is for it to be burned. Only three entities can officially retire a flag. They are VFW posts, Scout troops and American Legion posts.” 

What? That’s not what the Flag Code says. Anyone can retire the flag. The Daughters of the American Revolution would be quite surprised to be told they can’t retire their own flags. I frequently encourage families to have their own flag retirement ceremonies. Get the children to write some sweet script, and take a moment to talk about important flags in American history.  I am willing to trust the average American to retire his own flag. We are all official when it comes to retiring the flag.

From another news story:

 “The various elements of the flag … The stars, the red and white stripes and the blue background are included on the flag for a specific purpose.  Once the description has been read, the flag is cut apart.

The stars are saved and will be presented to veterans at a later date [ … ]. The stripes are individually cut off the flag and placed in a fire. The fire container must only be used for flag retirement and nothing else. During the burning portion of the ceremony, no one is to speak and silence has to be maintained out of respect.  [ … ]  Flags are burned one at a time and only after a flag is completely burned will the next one be burned. Silence is observed throughout the entire ceremony.

In the Flag Code, directly above Subsection (k) is Subsection (j) which says [ … ] The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. [ … .]

If the flag is “considered a living thing,” then dismembering a flag so old and worn out that it’s ready for retirement is rather egregious in my opinion. The flag has already served in honor—now it’s faded, ripped and torn, tattered on the fly.  Isn’t that enough?

And why would cutting out the stars and saving them (set aside to be given away later) be more important than the stripes? The flag was never meant to be parceled out in bits and pieces. That’s why we set it on fire in a ceremony, and burn it to ashes. Otherwise we could be making quilts out of the stripes—or kites, and patriotically flying them on the 4th of July.

Our most popular flag myth

And I read this:

 “ … flags should be retired for a number of reasons. The first indication a flag has become unserviceable is faded colors, but [ … ]  a flag should be retired if it has touched the ground. It’s just been a principle of the flag etiquette for years in the country, which is to keep all flags from touching the ground … . “

“When it comes to proper disposal, [ … ] it’s best to leave it to the experts [said the American Legion commander, who ] discourages anyone from burning their own flag, and invites area residents to turn their worn out flags over to the American Legion or any other veterans organization.”

No where in the Flag Code does it say that if a flag touches the ground, it should be destroyed. Yes, every effort should be made to keep the flag from touching the ground and other things beneath it (landscaping for example, and automobiles at giant car dealerships), but destroying a perfectly good flag is unnecessary, and not supported by the text. I am certain if those who codified the Flag Code meant for us to retire a dropped flag, they would have mentioned it specifically.

Flags fall down. Home flags mounted on diagonal poles are especially vulnerable to being blown out of the mount. The wind can pull one out of your hands while putting it up or taking it down (it’s happened to me). It’s a good idea to have a back up flag, if the flag does get dirty, but it doesn’t have to be destroyed, it just needs to be laundered or sent to the dry cleaners.

From the same newspaper article:

How to properly retire a U.S. flag:  Once a U.S. flag becomes worn, frayed or dirty, the flag is considered unserviceable and unable to properly fly. In order to suitably retire a U.S. or other American national flag, several procedures are to be followed in order to avoid any disrespect or desecration. According to the Veterans Department of Affairs and U.S. Flag Code, here are the steps to burn a flag: (my italics–DH)

1. Prepare a fire large enough to sufficiently burn the entire flag.

2. Fold the flag in a customary triangle manner.

3. Place the flag on the fire carefully and respectfully.

4. Individuals should salute or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as observe a moment of silence.

5. Allow the flag to be completely consumed.

6. Once the fire is cool, collect the ashes and any pieces of the flag.

7. Bury the ashes.

[The American Legion commander said] “ in order to ensure the flag is disposed properly, the flag must be given to a veteran’s organization. [He] encourages anyone with an unserviceable flag to donate it to any local American Legion post.

The Department of Veterans Affairs compiled a 52-page booklet about American history, veterans, the flag, and the scope of the department. No where in the booklet does it say anything about flag retirement ceremonies except to repeat the same section from the Flag Code:

§8. Respect for flag:  (k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Lastly, from the American Legion’s own website, in a section called Flag Myths, it identifies this myth:

You must destroy the flag when it touches the ground.
As long as the flag remains suitable for display, the flag may continue to be displayed as a symbol of our great country.

As I said at the beginning, I am grateful to civic and service organizations who perform the job of retiring our American flags. It’s an important service and it’s a big job, too. And they can choose any ceremony they want, but please make sure your script says, “This is how we like to retire the flag,” because it’s highly inappropriate and misleading to say “this is what the Flag Code says” when it doesn’t.

And don’t tell me I can’t retire my own flag.













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How the U.S. Navy names ships

Photo # NH 99426 Motor boat Boy Scout underway, ca 1916-17Do you remember the USS Boy Scout?

I wrote about Boy Scout last May, having found the name and photograph while researching at the Department of Navy—Naval Historical Center, looking for old photographs that showed the Stars and Stripes.

Historical photographs are indexed in myriad ways, but not by whether the U.S. flag is included in the image (so far as I can determine).  One of my on-going projects is to find the oldest photographic image that includes the flag.

I was trying to identify the flags on Boy Scout, when I included this line: “Maybe the Boy Scouts of American should lobby the U.S. Navy for a new USS Boy Scout, in time for the BSA centennial.”

The more I thought about it, the better I liked the idea, so I wrote a letter to the Honorable Donald C. Winter, Secretary of the Navy. It was short—one page—and I got right to the point and asked him to consider naming a new boat the USS Boy Scout in honor of Scouting‘s centennial coming in 2010.

I won’t share the entire letter with you, but here is a bit:

The first USS Boy Scout was small, and a second Boy Scout should probably be small too, in keeping with the spirit of the first. Regardless of the size, it needs to be a very special boat. It would be greatly beloved and her crew would never lack for attention.

After a few weeks, I received a nice reply from the office of the Secretary of the Navy, written and signed by a Navy captain working in the office. The captain thanked me for writing, and went on to explain that there were more requests for “names” than there were boats waiting for names, but that Secretary Winter considers every request. And I certainly understand that.

This morning I was (once again) looking in the archives and found this great article which explains the history of the Navy’s “ship-naming” process. There are all kinds of rules and precedents, and then exceptions to the rules.

Ordinarily I would link you directly to the page, but the Naval Historical Center is content-rich and operates slowly. I am including the entire article here, and applaud the superior scholarship of the unknown authors. It is a wonderful look at one part of U.S. Navy history.




WASHINGTON DC 20374-5060

Ship Naming in the United States Navy
The Navy traces its ancestry to 13 October 1775, when an act of the Continental Congress authorized the first ship of a new navy for the United Colonies, as they were then known. The ships of the Continental Navy, and of the Navy later established under the Federal Constitution, were not named in any strictly categorical manner.
Ship names in the Continental Navy and the early Federal navy came from a variety of sources. As if to emphasize the ties that many Americans still felt to Britain, the first ship of the new Continental Navy was named Alfred in honor of Alfred the Great, the king of Wessex who is credited with building the first English naval force. Another ship was named Raleigh to commemorate the seagoing exploits of Sir Walter Raleigh. Some ships honored early patriots and heroes (Hancock and General Greene). Others commemorated the young nation’s ideals and institutions (Constitution, Independence, Congress). A 74-gun ship-of-the-line, launched in 1782 and donated to the French Navy on completion, was named America. A Revolutionary War frigate named Bourbon saluted the King of France, whose alliance would further the cause of American independence. Other ship names honored American places (Boston, Virginia). Small warships– brigs and schooners–bore a variety of names. Some were named for positive character traits (Enterprise, Diligent). Others had classical names (Syren, Argus) or names of small creatures with a potent sting (Hornet, Wasp).
On 3 March 1819 an act of Congress formally placed the responsibility for assigning names to the Navy’s ships in the hands of the Secretary of the Navy, a prerogative which he still exercises. This act stated that “all of the ships, of the Navy of the United States, now building, or hereafter to be built, shall be named by the Secretary of the Navy, under the direction of the President of the United States, according to the following rule, to wit: those of the first class shall be called after the States of this Union; those of the second class after the rivers; and those of the third class after the principal cities and towns; taking care that no two vessels of the navy shall bear the same name.” The last-cited provision remains in the United States Code today. Continue reading How the U.S. Navy names ships
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Golden Boy




bsa100_oath Is there a special Boy Scout in your life? Looking for the gift of a lifetime? How about this beauty!

In celebration of 100 years of Boy Scouting, the Henry Repeating Arms Company has built the Henry Golden Boy “Boy Scouts of America Centennial Edition” Rifle.

This special rifle features the Scout Oath, Scout Law, scrollwork and traditional Boy Scouts of America logo embellishing the receiver, as well as a 100 Years of Scouting logo and Centennial Edition gold filled etchings in the buttstock and forearm.

No one knows how many boys first learned to shoot on the rifle range at a Boy Scout camp, but that first experience could have been with a Henry Rifle.

DKH_24It was the tiny American flag that caught my eye, in a Henry Repeating Arms advertisement on the inside back cover of the October edition of Texas Co-op Power magazine (the Pedernales Electric Cooperative Edition).

As you might expect, that little flag was irresistible to me, and I had to take closer look. Let me encourage you to take a closer look too. The story of the Henry Repeating Arms Company is American history. There is a great video on the Henry company website that shows how the rifles are made, and you can ask for a free color catalog. I have one, and it is a splendid publication.

I’ve been hinting to Husband for a new sewing machine for Christmas, but there’s no reason I can’t have  Golden Boy of my own. Right?

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Boy Scout James Cook saves his friend’s life

DKH_10 San Clemente boy’s lifesaving action rewarded

By VIK JOLLY for The Orange County Register

When his friend was choking on candy, all James Cook IV could think about was that he needed his buddy to hang out with.

27_scoutsave1_largeSAN CLEMENTE

It happened in a flash.

Tootsie rolls, Smarties fruit flavored candy and lollipops had just flown out of a demolished piñata. Children were all over the sweets.

The birthday girl Delaney Dutton, 5, had begun opening presents when it happened: Her brother Christian, 10, started to choke on a piece of a Smarties tart candy.

DKH_07Her mother, Julie, who for two decades was a 911 police dispatcher and a supervising manager with the Garden Grove Police Department, went to her son’s aide and started to pat him on the back. But the candy wouldn’t dislodge.

That’s when Christian’s friend and classmate, James Cook IV, came to the rescue.

For the rest of the story, go to the Orange Country Register.


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The Arrowmen of ArrowCorp5—a summer to remember

DKH_07 The five national park service projects of ArrowCorp5 are finished. There are several ways to quantify the value of this work, but for the young men themselves, the value is immeasurable.

In the years and decades to come, each young man will remember one very hard week in the sun, and see how his life changed as a result.

Videographers for ArrowCorp5 created five videos, which can be viewed on the OA website.  The Daily Flag has previously linked to the other four videos, and now Bridger-Teton is ready.

The videos recap the five weeks of work and fun, from all five National Forest sites:  Mark Twain, Manti-La Sal, George Washington and Jefferson, Shasta-Trinity, and Bridger-Teton.

Additionally, some of the Arrowmen who were working in the Bridger-Teton National Forest stepped in to help to aid the Forest Service in fighting the New Forks Fire, north of the town of Pinedale, Wyoming. Several volunteer arrowmen assisted the Forest Service by working in the Fire Cache, which is the warehouse of fire supplies and materials that are disseminated whenever a large fire breaks out in the Forest.

DKH_06Congratulations to the Arrowmen, and to all others involved in ArrowCorp5.  You have given much to the nation, and it will not be forgotten.

The images used here were taken from the Bridger-Teton video. 

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“He embodied that whole boy scout motto … “

From The Daily Times in Farmington, New Mexico.


imageWorld War II icon dies at 82: Rockwell model inspired scouts to aid country,  community

By James Monteleone The Daily Times

08/04/2008 12:00:00 AM MDT

AZTEC — Boy Scouts of America lost its poster face last week when Arthur Robert Hamilton died in Aztec at the age of 82.

Bob Hamilton was best known for his iconic image as the saluting scout in Norman Rockwell‘s 1944 painting, "We, too, have a job to do," which rallied Boy Scouts to collect cans and rubber, volunteer in the community and raise victory gardens for food during World War II.

But Hamilton, who died July 28, was more than a teen in the right place at the right time when Rockwell put his brush in the paint for the World War II-era image: Hamilton was a life-long scout, family members said.

"He was very much defined by being a Boy Scout," said Alison H. H. King, Hamilton’s daughter. "I think he influenced us to be all individuals, do the right thing, go above and beyond, make the right choices and life will pay you back."

For the rest of the tribute, go to The Daily Times of Farmington, New Mexico.

For more of Rockwell’s Scouts, link here.