As you can tell from the uniform I wear, there are medals and knots and stars, each of which has a meaning. But tonight I wear a patch which may not seem like one of such meaning, yet it has some of the most profound meanings of all. To look at, it appears like ones that so many of you young men wear. It is a patch from a District Camporee, with a date of 1970 on it.
One of the meanings from this patch is that it was the first Boy Scout campout that I ever went on. That weekend was just me and my patrol leader. And that is special by itself. But another meaning of this patch relates to one of our scout laws. The Scout law I am talking about is bravery.
The Scout law tells us that a Scout is Brave. So what is Bravery? Well the Scout handbook tells us that; “A Scout can face danger even if he is afraid. He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at or threaten him.”
The handbook goes on to say; “saving lives is not the only test of bravery. You are brave every time you do what is right in spite of what other might say. You are brave when you speak the truth and when you admit a mistake and apologize for it. And you show courage when you defend the rights of others.”
You don’t need a medal to be brave, you don’t need ribbons and articles in the paper. Bravery comes from deep inside. It is the voice within you that calls you to do the right thing. On that particular campout, in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday, over 100 Scouts were enjoying their camping, when the word of “Fire” swept thru the campsites. EVERY SINGLE scout stopped what we were doing, picked up tools and water, and started towards the fire. Most of us didn’t get to the site of the fire before word passed that the fire was out. (I saw the site of the fire later, a grass field was burned off, and about a 10 foot strip of trees burned.)
Another way to put it is: Bravery is doing what you have to do, because other options are unacceptable. About 15 years ago, I was put in a bad position. A doctor arrived at my bedside and told me that I had Cancer. I had two choices, I could either fight it or I could give up. One of those choices was unacceptable. Some people call the other choice “Brave”.
I wrote wrote this for Troop 721 in Lakeland, FL. All of the above were events I was there for. I never thought of standing up to cancer as particularly brave until later when someone else told me it was. The patrol leader mentioned above and I were 2 of the 5 Eagles from our troop over it’s lifetime.