Hawaiian Boy Scouts stitch their place in history

A close-up of the nearly 100-year-old flag.

On a Saturday in 1913 on the island of Oahu, Queen Lili‘uokalani drove past a group of boys doing Scouting drills.

Intrigued, she walked over and asked what kind of military exercise the boys were doing. We aren’t military, the Scouts replied, we’re Boy Scouts.

The boys explained the concept of Scouting to the queen, and a month later she returned with a silk Hawaiian flag. Onto the red, white, and blue flag with the Hawaiian royal crest the queen had hand-stitched the word “Onipaa,” which means “stick together” — a message for Scout troops that still resonates today.

For decades, the flag belonged to the Lili‘uokalani Trust. Then, in 2010 the trust presented the flag to the Aloha Council to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the BSA.

And now, as we approach a century since that regal meeting, the Aloha Council has “paid it forward” and donated the flag to the Bishop Museum, home to the world’s largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific artifacts. And as you can see above, proud members of Honolulu Troop 33 served as the color guard in the opening ceremony.

Rick Burr, executive director of the Aloha Council, explained the significance of the flag in a news release.

“This flag symbolizes the Queen’s recognition of Scouting as a positive and productive outlet to encourage young men and women to become leaders for life and contributing citizens who give back to their community,” he said. “We are honored to gift this very special flag to the Bishop Museum, whom we know will ensure its safe keeping and preservation so that generations to come can enjoy it.”

Blair Collis, museum president, said the flag will be cataloged and then displayed in Hawaiian Hall for all to see.

In other words, if you were looking for an excuse to take your Scouts to Hawaii, you’ve found it.

Photos from Boy Scout Troop 33 Web site

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.