Let’s take an honest look at honesty during the month of August. Remember that HONESTY can be thought of as Integrity, being honorable, true, steadfast, reputable, sincere, upright and loyal. The Scout Law includes being Trustworthy & Loyal. And every Cub Scout, whether a Tiger or a Webelos about to receive the Arrow of Light, learns that a Promise is to be Kept, and that a scout should play Fair and show Good Sportsmanship.
August is also designated “Water Quality Month” ~ and we all want to feel secure that our water quality is reported with honesty. Scouts and their families can help improve and maintain good water quality when we follow the Leave No Trace guidelines, and when we do things that help maintain the quality of the water in our own areas. Some scouts have also helped remind others to keep local waters safe by painting reminders on the curbs. In my area, these reminders say “Drains to the River – Do Not Discard Motor Oil & Trash.” But in other areas, the warning may read “Drains to the Bay – Protect our water.” August would be a great month to take on a conservation project to protect the water in your area!
August 1 – The Birthday of Francis Scott Key
Every schoolchild learns that he wrote the National Anthem – but there is a story of great integrity behind how Francis Scott Key wrote the words we all sing as our country’s national anthem. Here’s the rest of the story:
Francis Scott Key was a respected young lawyer living in Georgetown, just a few miles from Washington, DC when the War of 1812 began. The British had invaded and captured Washington and set fire to the Capitol and the White House by August 24th. A thunderstorm kept the fires from spreading two days in a row, and the British troops returned to their ships in Chesapeake Bay.
Word soon reached Francis Scott Key that the British had carried off an elderly and much loved town physician of Upper Marlboro, Dr. William Beanes, and it was feared he would be hanged. Townsfolk asked Francis Scott Key for his help, and he agreed, and arranged to have Col. John Skinner, an American agent for prisoner exchange, go with him to the British ship Tonnant, where Beanes was being held.
They set sail from Baltimore flying a flag of truce approved by President Madison, and boarded the British ship. At first, the British refused to release Dr. Beanes, but Key and Skinner produced a pouch of letters written by wounded British prisoners praising the care they were receiving from the Americans, including Dr. Beanes. The British officers relented but would not release the three Americans immediately because they had seen and heard too much of the preparations for the attack on Baltimore. They were placed under guard, and forced to wait out the battle behind the British fleet.
At the star-shaped Fort McHenry, the commander, Maj. George Armistead, asked for a flag so big that "the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance". Mary Young Pickersgill, a "maker of colours," was commissioned to make the flag. Mary and her thirteen year old daughter Caroline, working in an upstairs front bedroom, used 400 yards of best quality wool bunting. They cut 15 stars that measured two feet from point to point. Eight red and seven white stripes, each two feet wide, were cut. The flag measured 30 by 42 feet and cost $405.90 – a lot of money at the time!
At 7 a.m. on the morning of September 13, 1814, the British bombardment began of Fort McHenry began. It continued for 25 hours. The British fired 1,500 bombshells that weighed as much as 220 pounds and carried lighted fuses that would supposedly cause it to explode when it reached its target. But they weren't very dependable and often blew up in midair. From special small boats the British fired the new Congreve rockets that traced wobbly arcs of red flame across the sky. The Americans had sunk 22 vessels so a close approach by the British was not possible.
At about 1a.m. on the 14th, the British began firing their rockets. Key, Col. Skinner, and Dr. Beanes watched the battle with apprehension. They knew that as long as the shelling continued, Fort McHenry had not surrendered. But, long before daylight there came a sudden and mysterious silence. What the three Americans did not know was that the British land assault and naval assault had been ended.
Waiting in the predawn darkness, Key waited for the sight that would end his anxiety; the joyous sight of the great flag blowing in the breeze. When at last daylight came, the flag was still there!
Being an amateur poet, Key began to write on the back of a letter he had in his pocket. Sailing back to Baltimore he composed more lines and finished the poem. Judge J. H. Nicholson, his brother-in-law, took it to a printer and copies were circulated around Baltimore under the title "Defense of Fort McHenry". Two of these copies survive. It was printed in a newspaper for the first time in the Baltimore Patriot on September 20th, 1814, then in papers as far away as Georgia and New Hampshire. To the verses was added a note "Tune: Anacreon in Heaven." In October a Baltimore actor sang Key's new song in a public performance and called it "The Star-Spangled Banner".
Immediately popular, it was finally adopted as our national anthem on March 3, 1931. But the actual words were not included in the legal documents. Key himself had written several versions with slight variations so discrepancies in the exact wording still occur.
The flag itself went on view for the first time after flying over Fort McHenry, on January 1st, 1876 at the Old State House in Philadelphia - for the nation’s Centennial celebration. It is now in the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History.
The copy of the poem that Key wrote in his hotel September 14, 1814, remained in the Nicholson family for 93 years. In 1907 it was sold to Henry Walters of Baltimore, and eventually to the Maryland Historical Society for $26,400. Another copy that Key made is in the Library of Congress.
August 1 - Picnic Day in Australia
So be an “Aussie” for the day and have a family, den or pack picnic!
August 2 – Ice Cream Sandwich Day
You can make an HONEST – to – goodness ice cream sandwich using the recipe under Cub Grub – or just buy them. Either way, it’s a great treat!
August 3 - National Watermelon Day
Have the treat, add a Watermelon Seed Spitting Contest, or you might even visit a farmer’s market or farm to pick out your watermelon. Check your local area for a certified farmer’s market – some of them offer free tours and special activities for scout groups. Go to: www.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/ In the upper right box, click on Find or Add a Farmer’s Market to find one near you.
August 4 – Coast Guard Day
The Coast Guard was established on this day in 1790! And they are a great example of honesty and integrity. The official statement of the Coast Guard says, “Integrity is our standard. We demonstrate uncompromising ethical conduct and moral behavior in all of our personal actions. We are loyal and accountable to the public trust.
Honesty means being forthright and truthful when we interact with others in the performance of our assigned tasks. We will bring problems forward as soon as they are identified, and not attempt to misrepresent our errors or evade their consequences. We must always own our mistakes as well as our successes, and demonstrate good faith in our efforts to learn from them.” Over and over again, men and women of the Coast Guard have been steadfast in performing their duty even at the cost of their own lives. If you want to check out some true stories about Coast Guard heroes, go to: http://coastguard.dodlive.mil/2010/11/coast-guard-heroes-joseph-napier/ This is a series on the Coast Guard blog, and by clicking on Compass series, you can read stories and see photos of Coast Guard heroes from many times and places, including Katrina.
The motto of the United States Coast Guard is "Semper Paratus" (Always Ready) – and they have served with integrity since President Wilson signed the “Act to Create the Coast Guard” on January 28, 1915. This act combined the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the Revenue Cutter Service that had been in operation since 1790. Check out the Fun Facts About the Coast Guard.
August 7 – National Lighthouse Day
Many lighthouse and light station keepers have served with honor and integrity. Go to:
www.us-lighthouses.com/ for an alphabetical listing;