Cub Scouts present American flags to soldiers as thanks for service
Saturday, December 7, 2013, Cub Scouts waited from 9 am to 2 pm at the north and south concourses of the Eppley Airport in Omaha, NE to greet soldiers arriving and departing for travel. During those five hours, eight Cub Scouts presented 16 soldiers with a 3’ x 5’ American flag as a thank you for their service. It was a heartwarming experience for both the boys and the soldiers.
“A soldier came through with his mom and dad and two younger sisters helping him carry his pack and things,” shared Den Leader Randy Fellows. “The mom and sister started crying as Cub Scouts Jayden B. and Randy F. presented the flag and thanked the soldier.”
The Cub Scouts are members of Pack 327 from Lewis and Clark District in the Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America. They were excited to participate in the Flags to Military service project, as Assistant Council Commissioner Randy Yates calls it.
The service project is the brain-child of Yates. Last fall, he represented the council at a Veterans Day new-flag-for-old-flag event at the Atchley Ford Dealership in Omaha, NE.
“I left with 30 free flag certificates from Mr. Ed’s Flagpole Company in Council Bluffs, IA. I had the idea of doing something like this, but did not want to give out free flag certificates. They would more than likely be tossed,” explained Yates. “ I asked for and got 30 flags from Mr. Ed. I submitted my idea of Cub Scouts presenting the flags to soldiers, and secured permission from the airport police to do this.”
The airport police were helpful and supportive of the project providing guidelines and rules for the Cub Scouts to observe while at the airport.
Yates wasn’t sure whether the Cub Scouts would encounter any military persons traveling through Eppley on Saturday or not.
“If the boys give out only one flag and thank only one soldier for his service, I will consider this project a success,” stated Yates. In fact, 16 soldiers were presented flags and thanked for their service.
“One soldier said he travels a lot, and has never had this happen before! He was touched,” Yates continued.
“The Flags to Military service project is an event that can be repeated with Scouts across the nation at any airport with soldiers traveling through,” Yates mused. “It’s like skipping a stone on a lake, it just keeps going.”
The Cub Scouts and the soldiers will remember this for the rest of their lives as an unparalleled experience. The soldiers were touched to be recognized and thanked for their service by some of our youngest citizens. The Cub Scouts had a first-hand opportunity to meet and express thanks to soldiers for their service.
“One soldier gave a Cub Scout a Challenge Coin when presented with the flag,” said Den Leader Randy Fellows. “I think he just wanted to give something back to recognize the Cub Scout and thank him, too.”
“Many readers may not even know what a “challenge coin” is, or how they are used within the modern-day military ranks, but their use is highly prevalent in many arenas. Members of the US Armed Forces have a long-standing tradition of carrying such coins that symbolize unit identity and brotherhood. Each piece usually bears unique unit symbols or mottos that identify the group in which they represent, and are often traded, presented, and collected
between unit members. Challenge coins capture the very essence of military affiliation and instill pride to those that carry them.” Excerpt from Military Challenge Coins – A Lasting Tradition Within the Armed Forces by Kevin Santiago.
The Cub Scouts still have 14 American Flags. They plan to schedule another day to return to the airport and give the flags to soldiers thanking them for service.
KMTV Action 3 News broadcast their report on the Cub Scouts Flags to Military event Sunday, December 8 at 10 p.m. To see the report, visit http://www.kmtv.com/.
Boys’ Life featured the Cub Scouts on their Blog. Visit http://boyslife.org/about-scouts/scouting-around/97657/cub-scouts-say-thanks-to-soldiers/comment-page-1/
Author – Dixie Wagner, Mid-America Council, Boy Scouts of America