This week, America celebrates Veterans Day. Although officially declared back in the 1950s, it received little fanfare until the 1990s when a series of conflicts overseas coupled to an aging Vietnam Veteran population caused a renewed interest in honoring veterans. Since my time with this Council, I have been incredibly impressed with the number of touch points between the military and Girl Scouts. An entire Council, Girl Scouts Overseas, is dedicated to supporting the military and State Department personnel overseas. Our local base here has had an active troop for years, this despite the challenges of Girl Scouts rotating so much moving with their parents. In fact, one of our staff members recently hired was part of the base troop during her middle school years. Gold Award Girl Scouts have done projects honoring veterans. GSUSA recently came out with a ribbon for Gold Award Girl Scouts who join the military. And the military reciprocates by promoting early Gold Award Girl Scouts. Finally, for our Council, the Gift of Caring donates thousands and thousands of cookies to military personnel and thru relationships with nonprofits and the military itself, many of those cookies reach overseas service members in large margins. I can attest to that being the recipient of the cookies, a happy nostalgic reminder of home.
While the pandemic will mute any veteran celebrations this year, in more normal times, Girl Scouts nationwide would honor our veterans’ service. Last year, our Yakima Girl Scouts did that in their annual parade. What was so special about it was seeing the Girl Scouts go up to each veteran in the crowd and individually thank them. The smiles on the veterans’ faces was epic. I will never forget it.
Why the synergy? I would offer a few thoughts. We both strive for a noble mission. The military defending a nation. Girl Scouts—building the future nation, made even more apparent by our recent emphasis on civics. We both gain vitality helping each other so when it happens, we surge ahead. When the United States was formed, it only gained strength when new pillars helped hold up its roof. It took 13 states to hold up the nation. For the military, it is the same, but I offer these famous words, “…duty, honor and country are the pillars to hold up its structure.” I also see Girl Scouts as having three pillars: the Law, Promise and the Girl. Taken together, these three items are the essence of our organization. Our duty is to follow the Law, our honor is the promise to serve communities and our country is the 1.7 million Girl Scouts who make up our calling.
Girl Scouts is one of the most kind organizations ever envisioned. It starts with our Law of being helpful and friendly and ends with our main effort selling cookies. It is no surprise that the most popular product sold in our store is uniforms. It is a magical movement. The military with its difficult and foreboding mission is the opposite end of the spectrum. But we do diverge in our efforts to make the world a better place with peace and happiness being two end states we each seek. This Veterans Day, it will be a quiet ‘thank you’ for our veterans. But I will send a note to my military colleagues and let them know that this summer, a record number of cookies were donated to them to say thanks for all they do, pandemic or no pandemic. The famous Buffalo Bills coach Marv Levy who coached his team to a record four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s was asked if his next Super Bowl was a must win. He said “no.” World War II was a must win, not a game of football.
I think this Veterans Day that another must win is to thank our veterans, many deployed for much longer because of the pandemic. Another must win is Girl Scouts. We need leaders who make the world a better place more than ever and Girl Scouts are that future. This past election, many women were elected to lead our nation. Many were Girl Scouts. Like the military, winning for us is not a game. It is a must because when Girls succeed, society succeeds.
Happy Veterans Day America!