Saturday, November 10, 2012


Teddy is groaning, as if my lights and quiet sounds are bothering his sleep.  This dog wants to be able to sleep on the couch, but wants the lights turned out at a certain hour.

It's not even 10:00 pm!

And you're the dog!

I feel as though I didn't do anything good today.  It was a day of too much television.  Then, Nick, Mike, and some other Boy Scouts served spaghetti at an Eagles dinner.  Mike said that parents were probably going to drop their kids off, so I should take Teddy to the park for a good run.  He said there were only three boys who came, but that was plenty of kids to work for the small group of people who were served spaghetti.

The boys got service hours for their work.  I don't quite see how it's something they should get service hours for.  What keeps the garden club from requesting Boy Scouts to serve at their banquets and calling it service hours? 

I suppose there will always be something I don't see.  Maybe it's the fact that the Eagles are a service organization themselves that makes what the Boy Scouts did service hours.  I don't know.

So what is service? 

I think serving meals at a shelter is service.  Volunteering at a food bank is service.  Helping build a house for Habitat for Humanity is service.  Building sandbag walls to protect against flooding is service.  What else?  I'm not feeling creative here.  Does the flag retirement ceremony they performed the other night constitute service? 

This was a pretty cool ceremony.  The boys read a tribute as flags were burned.  I don't know where the tribute came from, but it was the same one they read last year.  Each boy was asked to put a stripe on the fire.  Then the rest of us were allowed to put a flag on the fire too.  I liked that part.  I was given the kind of flag you get at a parade, a small one with a wooden dowel holding it.  I didn't see why my flag was ready to be retired.  It still looked pretty good, as though it might have a lot of good days left for waving at parades.  I felt the same way about the burial flag someone dropped off.  It wasn't tattered, just a little faded.  How could they be ready to retire that flag, the one handed to the widow or the first-born child at the funeral?  How could they drop off that burial flag and not show up at the ceremony?  That flag represented an actual soldier who was lost, something that made me think a little harder than all the little parade flags that we burned. 

A life given.  Think about it. 

At the end, the names of the fifty states were spoken in the order they were ratified as a star was put on the fire for each one. 

That made me think of Puerto Rico again.  And Guam.  I don't like that these places are in limbo, not free, not represented.  I'd imagine they have to pay taxes, but I don't know that for certain.

I was moved by what the boys had read.  It even addressed the right to free speech and how the burning of the flag is a part of that right.  I was moved that the boys did their best, didn't stumble, were humble and serious, even the Cub Scout who showed up and joined our ranks.   Being the youngest, he got to help Mike put individual stars on the fire.

When it was almost over, I looked over at the Veteran's memorial, a large granite stone that was polished to a high sheen, a stone with local veteran's names etched onto it.  The flames from the fire were reflected off that stone. 

Afterward, the boys were happy about hot chocolate and rice crispy treats in the American Legion hall.  One boy spilled his whole cup.  He was so embarrassed that he tried to hide the way he held one hand over the other.  I hope it wasn't too hot, that he wasn't burned too badly. 

So, I was standing there talking to a guy I know from church who was one of the veterans.  Mr. Jackson.  He looked nice dressed in his uniform.  Mike came to stand next to me to chat.  They'd met before, Mike and Mr. Jackson.  Can you believe that this guy, a World War II veteran, said he had been in our Boy Scout Troop eighty years ago?  Holy crow!

"Well, Mr. Jackson," I said as I patted Mike on the shoulder, "I'd like you to meet your new Scoutmaster."

Thank you for listening, jb

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