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Join Transatlantic Council Scouts in efforts to save the D-Day beaches

normandy-pinLove of country and reverence for our nation’s heroes are staples of the Boy Scouts of America.

So it should come as no surprise that BSA Scouts and Scouters are the ones leading efforts to preserve the beaches at Normandy, where allied forces made landfall on D-Day. You’re a vital part of this effort, and you can help without traveling 3,600 miles to France. All you need is your laptop and 60 seconds.

The Transatlantic Council, a traditional Scouting council serving Americans living in Europe, is presenting UNESCO with a petition to request World Heritage Site status to the D-Day beaches. Time is of the essence as commercial developers plan to change the landscape around the D-Day beaches with massive wind farms.

Take a minute to sign the petition right now and do your part.

Transatlantic Council members appreciate your support. In the photo above, you’re looking at 3,000 BSA Scouts, family members and World War II veterans gathered on Omaha Beach to launch their efforts to obtain UNESCO World Heritage Site status.

They’ll gather again at the annual Normandy Camporee on April 25-27 to officially present the petition with your signature and, I hope, thousands of others.

The timing makes sense as we approach the 70th anniversary of the June 6, 1944, Normandy landings. And with your help, we can ensure future Scouts and Scouters can visit the Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold and Sword beaches for the 170th anniversary.

More info from the Transatlantic Council:

An Initiative of the Transatlantic Council, Boy Scouts of America

Overview

In 2011 Transatlantic Council, Boy Scouts of America undertook the challenge of leading the campaign for the nomination of the D-Day Landing Beaches to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our goal is to gather signatures to present an overwhelming testimony to the desire of people throughout the world to preserve these beaches for future generations. The culmination and presentation will take place on April 26th, 2014 at the opening ceremonies of the 70th Anniversary commemoration of D-Day.

Why Protect the Beaches?

June 6th, 1944 certainly has historical significance as the largest military operation of its type ever conducted. The beginning of the Battle of Normandy and subsequent events led to the liberation of Western Europe and the defeat of Nazism. The historical value of the five landing beaches is beyond question. Although there are no immediate plans to develop the beaches, the UNESCO designation provides a guarantee that future generations can visit Utah, Omaha, Juno, Gold, and Sword and walk in the steps of history.

We remember the sacrifices and the brave actions of young men who fought the battle, but the D-Day Landing beaches are also a place of reconciliation, where we can see as a people how our common values were also won. There are few sites in Europe where one can honor both the sacrifice and celebrate the peace that was achieved.

Why the Transatlantic Council, Boy Scouts of America

Our ties to Normandy began in 1992 with the launch of the Normandy Historical Trail to encourage Scouts and their families to travel to Normandy and hike to the main sites and monuments in the American sector. In 1994, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings we brought 1800 Scouts and families to Omaha Beach to participate in ceremonies marking D-Day. Since that time, over 25,000 youth, leaders, and family members have participated in scouting events in Normandy.

We now have the largest continuous youth commemoration program in the Lower Normandy area. Our events are well organized, receive local and national support, and involve youth all over Europe.

As a result of our past success, we are organizing the French national youth program for Normandy involving Scouts and youth from throughout Europe. Over 6,000 youth are expected to participate in the Omaha Beach camporee.  With this success, Transatlantic Council is designated as a “Custodian of the Memory of Omaha Beach” by the French Ministry of Defense.

We are the leaders in honoring the memory now that the spouses and family members of those who fell come less frequently to Normandy. We have chosen to work towards the designation for all five landing beaches as we came as allies and every beach holds a special place to those countries who serve as allies.

14 Comments on Join Transatlantic Council Scouts in efforts to save the D-Day beaches

  1. While saving the D-Day site is a laudable goal, the organization through whom the petition is channeled, change.org is somewhat suspect.

    You may want to read through the wikipedia entry, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change.org , and an article in wired, http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2013/09/change-org/ before you gift a for-profit enterprise with
    a) your e-mail, and
    b) information on causes you advocate.

    It may be more judicious to simply write UNESCO yourself. It seems to me to be that while this may be a good cause, even if the top levels at BSA say it’s a good thing, it might be a political (to some extent) cause that is outside the mission of BSA [for those, including the top brass, who may have forgotten: "The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law"]

    • Hi, Carey,

      In response I would point you to the BSA’s Vision Statement: “The Boy Scouts of America will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law.” To me, this effort has a perfect fit in that statement.

      • This is definite a laudable cause. My concerns, which I did not apparently make clear, were two-fold:
        1. Encouraging engagement in a political (this is urging a government, that of France, to abrogate certain property rights near the historical beaches through the actions of a so-called international agency) issue, the encouragement of which is outside the scope of the BSA mission. If it is successful in this then it will enable its members “to make ethical and moral choices” based on “the values of the Scout Oath and Law” and thereby “will prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader”
        2. Encouraging the use of a vehicle whose ultimate motives may in some sense be suspect [I refer you to the links above].

        While the preservation i s a good idea, the vehicle through which this is achieved may be suspect. My purpose is simply providing enough information so that any one who goes through the change.org website, a for-profit website, has the information to make “ethical and moral choices” – the use of BSA as an avocacy organization for the cause is outside its mission and values. Obscure point maybe, and I had almost signed the petition before I did research on change.org.

      • Or, in a few words (which I am not often guilty of) – mention that some scouts are interest in this issue, but don’t necessarily advocate for or against it, and let interested people find a way to advocate their position. I am concerned of BSA becoming an advocacy organization, which is not its mission OR vision

  2. Stephen Ambrose to David Gergen on D-Day and the Boy Scouts:

    STEPHEN AMBROSE: Hitler, when he declared war on the United States, 10 December, 1941, made a bet that “my kids raised under the Nazi youth will always outfight those American kids raised as Boy Scouts.” Well, Hitler lost that bet. The American soldier turned out to be far superior to the German soldier, as he came to be also in the Pacific against the Japanese. Many reasons for it, but chief among them is that they took responsibility for themselves and for those around them– the guy over here and the guy over there.

    In the German army or the Red Army, the Russian Army, or the Japanese army, if a lieutenant got killed, the platoon was leaderless. Nobody stepped forward to take control, and the officer from the brigade had to come down and so on. In the American army, the sergeant would take over immediately, or sometimes it could be a private that was going to take over immediately. But they could see what needed to be done and decide, “we’re going to do this; instead of sitting around and cowering down with the shells coming in, we’re going to do this; we’re going to do that; we’re going to charge up here.”

    And in the Normandy invasion, initially the Germans pinned down all these people along Omaha Beach, and there was barbed wire and there were minefields, and then you had to go up a very steep bluff that had a lot of trenches in it. It was a World War I kind of a setting. And there was no retreat. You couldn’t run. You couldn’t get out of there. It was a private over here and a sergeant over here and a lieutenant over here and a corporal over there who said, “screw this, man. If I’m going to get killed, I’m going up that hill and take some Germans with me. Come on, who’s coming with me?” And they would just start off, and others would get in behind them, and up they would go, and they took the hill in that way. That would not have happened in other armies, but it happened in the American army.

    DAVID GERGEN: Why would it not have happened in another army?

    STEPHEN AMBROSE: Because they’re not trained to take that kind of responsibility because of what Hitler had bet. That’s what you learn in the Boy Scouts: Somebody’s got to take command here; now whoever it’s going to be, what are we going to do next? And he says what we’re going to do next, and off you go.

    • So did the British, Canadian, French and other allied armies just lie on the beach until the Americans rescued them?

  3. I would agree with Carey, and although I support many causes social and otherwise I will not support this particular one. I read all the material provided yet never read what exactly the risk is to the beaches of erecting equipment to capture wind energy. We need to embrace alternative energy, not force them ever elsewhere. I don’t have the skepticism of change.org that Carey does but I do agree with this advice to understand who they are. I think organizations connected to politics do some great things and some not so great things. Talking about these issues is great, so thanks for engaging the conversation.

  4. While I agree as Scouts and Scouters we cannot lobby or support political causes, as individuals we do have that opportunity. Our troop does work closely with local veterans groups, so that in itself is a reason to support a cause such as this. Those who died on those beaches in 1944, and the many who have passed since, cannot voice their opinions; we can do so, not as Scouts or Scouters but simply as humans who may or may not have had a family member in the war.

    • I love the way that we, the American people, have learned to quibble rather than to commit to a cause. It is painfully obvious that many of you on this forum have niether walked the beaches of Normandy nor served your country in any capacity. And yet you would get on here and sound off as if you had a vested interest in this. I’ve walked those beaches and ran my fingers over the etched names on the stones at Colesville. The Spirit of the place is made Holy by the blood of the boys that bathed the shores. The people of Normandy know it. They are gracious and wonderful because of it. In short, France has a million fabulous wind farms.scattered throughout this beautiful region . They simply don’t need to be on the beaches of Normandy any more than we need a toilet installed in the middle of of the National Cathedral. Reverence people. Let us never forget.

  5. Although I certainly agree with the need to keep the Normandy landing sites as a memorial for those who gave so much for so many, it isn’t clear to me yet how the construction of wind farms will impact on the sanctity of this area. Can you elaborate?

  6. I may be mistaken, but wasn’t Omaha Beach given as a gift to The US by France?

    • I would agree. I think a wind farm would be fine – it’s not like they’re planning to build factories or suburbs on the land.

  7. If Americans and Scouters were truly serious about the importance of UWHSs, they would be petitioning Congress and their legislatures to preserve and fund the dozen plus UWHSs within US borders. Congress’s persistent defunding of the National Park Service places far larger assets at risk than the French coastline. Additionally, the refusal of the Florida Legislature to fund and implement the Everglades Cleanup is an egregious failure of government. More than half of the historical Everglades has been paved over by developers.

    The French have demonstrated a far greater ability and interest in historic preservation than the US government ever has. It far more likely the French Parliament will regulate development at Normandy than the US government will at any of the US UWHSs.

    While it is appropriate that TAC take an interest in its neighborhood, the lack of action by the larger organization to act on its ideals in its own backyard is disappointing.

  8. joravetz@yahoo.com // July 9, 2014 at 6:28 am // Reply

    Jason, the beaches were not gifted by France, the upkeep of Point du Hoc and the access points were. This is about more than wind farms, there were planning permissions already submitted for casinos and housing developments, reducing the character of the place. And I don’t mean character in a snobby exclusive golf club (apologies to golf nuts) way, but in a general destruction of a battle ground. I participated with my family and Troop in this event, I did it 3 years ago too. I think the message for our young Scouts is a message of peace and unity. Participating in an event this huge is not to glorify whose youth is better, but to reach out and remember, so that it never happens again. My children came away with a sense of scale of the landings, the impact on the local communities, they also read the diaries of Rangers bequeathed to the Rangers museum at Grandcamp Maisy. It became very real for them. Carey, you maybe right to question the appeal and donation site, such are the pitfalls of social media. The scale and impact of the appeal was far greater. The global nature of this event is what made it necessary for BSA to support it. When you still have a Transatlantic council in Europe, where the bulk of Troops are affiliated to US service and support personnel, and whose Eagle projects often support the historic battle trails or service projects associated with American cemeteries it would be erroneous of BSA not to support this endeavor. Judging by the uniforms in attendance I would estimate half of the 4000 Scouters were European Scouts, a celebration of co operation in anyones book.

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