Happy Veterans Day to the thousands of veterans in our Council. I estimate at least 20,000 veterans across our 65,000 square miles. I spoke at one of our more rural high schools this week and was so excited to see so many Vietnam-era veterans in the audience, and this small town will horror their heroes with a parade on Veterans Day. Despite six feet snow drifts, this town will come out to thank its veterans with their big hearts. That is Americana, to a tee. The Veterans Day school assembly was organized by an incredible Girl Scout Ambassador Maddie Ashmore. Her support for veterans is laudable. But it is no surprise. I remain in awe of how much our Girl Scouts do to honor their communities and America. Starting last Saturday, Girl Scouts started attending parades from West Richland onward. On Veterans Day, they will be in Spokane handing out cookies on behalf of the great citizens of our Council at the Illuminating Courage Memorial, which honors veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice. I am just inspired by our Girl Scouts and their valiant volunteers for the honor they represent,
I say our mission statement about five times a week in various venues….courage, confidence, and character to make the world a better place. In my Tonasket high school speech, I spoke to a story of failed US military rescue operation to save American hostages in Iran held captive—that occurred in April 1980. It is known as Operation Eagle Claw. It failed miserably, and the final chapter of the story was when the US special forces returned to their base in the Persian Gulf, the British soldiers left them with beer to provide some healing and a note: “At least you had the guts to try.” That simple note sums up the entire American veteran experience. From WWI to the difficult Afghanistan withdrawal, you will always find veterans who had the guts to try. That is why we honor them this November 11th.
Let’s talk about Girl Scouts…doesn’t that sum up Girl Scouts too? Our Girls have the guts to try. In my four years as CEO, I have never met a Girl who has not increased her cookie goals from last year. I have not met a Girl who wanted to try the swim test at camp or do archery or do an escape room or do spooky science, yes, eyes wide open. I celebrate a Girl, Paizley living in a small town of 2,400 customers, St Maries, who sold nearly 500 items for fall sale. Wow, she had the guts to try to reach their lofty goals. Our Girl Scouts may not always succeed, but what our staff, our volunteers, and Girl Scouts are committed to is never giving up. Juliette never did. She battled cancer in her final years to give the movement a chance to flourish. She gave us grit. And guts. Yes, we use the term courage more frequently, but I am incredibly impressed with our Girls who dare mighty things. Where does it come from? Well, it starts with that first cookie sale.
Take a five-year-old and put her in front of a shopping center door to sell cookies, and the seed is planted. Place a Girl Scout in front of a Walmart door during peak cookie season, and you just gave her a six-pack of courage. That is the program of Girl Scouts—provide entrepreneurial opportunities, showcase the outdoors, stress life skills, add the significance of STEM, and you have a budget of opportunity. All we ask of our Girls is to have the courage or guts to try. And guess what? Try they do. I was so happy when they released the 2020 Lemon Ups with leadership sayings on the cookie. They put ‘Gutsy’ on one of the cookies. That saying was inspired by our Girl Scouts because they have guts just like the America veteran. And better yet, like our proud service members, they have the guts to try. Thank you, service members, for showing us true courage—you inspire us to have the same, and in doing so, together, veterans and Girl Scouts make the world a better place! Happy Veterans Day!