The 41st President, George H.W. Bush, was still lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda when Troop 1717 of Hartwood, VA held its weekly evening meeting on December 4th at historic Hartwood Presbyterian Church in Aquia District. It was there that Eagle Scout and Senior Patrol Leader Ben Motta asked youth and adult leaders if it was possible to pull together a delegation from the Troop to travel that very night to the U.S. Capitol to honor his service to our Nation.
It was very short notice and a school night, but SPL Motta challenged his fellow Scouts to step up saying that, if they could stay up all night playing video games, they could surely muster enough energy to stay up to honor a President of the United States. In his words, “Patriotism should never sleep.” Five Scouts in addition to Motta volunteered: Eagle Scouts Teddy Durrant and Ethan Crawford and fellow senior Scouts Zach Dankanich, Norman Carter, Jr. and Owen Knight. Leaving with four volunteer Assistant Scoutmasters around midnight, they arrived at the Capital about an hour later in full uniform and stood in line in the cold with other mourners for about an hour. Then, around 2:00 AM, they silently slipped into the Rotunda in single file to stand within mere yards of the body of the 41st President, his flag-draped casket held high upon a catafalque which once held the casket of President Abraham Lincoln.
Little did they know that their visit was captured by a WUSA9 TV reporter and C-Span cameras. After a few moments in silent prayer and reflection, they issued, on command, one last sharp Scout Salute to a President who, like all U.S. Presidents, served as the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America. Later, they would describe the experience as “sad” and “heavy” but also “powerful” and ‘inspiring.”
They said they felt it important to make the extra effort to honor President Bush, a war hero and member of what’s come to be known as the “Greatest Generation,” who had dedicated his life to service to his Country.
“It was impressive to stand next to the President’s casket and think of all that he had accomplished throughout his life in the service of others,” Ben says. “I think that his example is one that all Scouts aim to follow.”
The Scouts and their leaders returned back home around 4:00 AM to take a short nap before rising again to go to school and work. Said SPL Ben, speaking for all the Scouts: “I was proud to be there, not just as an American, but as a representative of a movement and an ideology that stresses character, service, and loyalty to God, country and family.”
For more on this story, check out the WUSA9 story and video Boy Scouts pay respects to late President George H.W. Bush at https://www.wusa9.com/video/news/boy-scouts-pay-respects-to-late-president-george-hw-bush/65-8362333 or visit the Bryan on Scouting Blog to read Duty to country: Webelos Scout, Boy Scouts salute President George H.W. Bush at https://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2018/12/06/duty-to-country-webelos-scout-boy-scouts-salute-president-george-h-w-bush/