“On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country …”
Patriotism is in our movement’s DNA. Duty to country is in the first line of our oath and prominent in our programs. This is a wonderful time of year to express that value—as Scouts do year-round. From flag ceremonies at ball games and leading parades, to decorating the graves of veterans and retiring worn flags with dignity, Scouts are often finding ways to begin serving our nation and showing their love and respect for this country early in life.
But as Scouts grow up, what does duty to country mean through the lens of Scouting values?
When you think of “country” as a place on a map, our Scouting values come to life in many ways: shaping your community through community service projects or being an informed voter, or serving in the military or as a public servant of some kind. It can mean working toward a society that is ethical, civil and reflective of the values we hold dear through education, volunteerism, private business or being a parent or mentor. Personally, I think it also means loving your country resiliently through its ups and downs, when the political tide has turned your way and when it hasn’t. To never stop working for the U.S. to be its best.
As an outdoorsman, I cannot separate duty to country from also having a responsibility toward the land that we are so fortunate to inhabit. To love the United States of America well is to be good caretakers of the place itself—spending time exploring the rich nature available to us, advocating to conserve the health and beauty of its natural resources, and being good environmental stewards of our slice of the world. I like how Teddy Roosevelt said it:
“Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resources, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children’s children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interests skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance.”
I hope at this patriotic time, you’ll have the opportunity to reflect on what duty to country means to you and how you can continue to show your love.
Happy Independence Day and God bless America!
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