As Scouts walked around the sprawling Pentagon, ducking into office after office to meet high-ranking military and Department of Defense leaders, it was hard to tell who was more impressed by whom.
Was it the Scouts, shaking hands with four-star generals and the second-highest-ranking official in the Department of Defense? Or was it the officials themselves, who saw in these 10 young people a reassuringly positive view of our nation’s future?
Let’s call it a tie.
On Monday, 10 representatives from the BSA visited the Pentagon to present the 2015 Report to the Nation, a recap of another great year of Scouting.
Here’s a quick look at what some Pentagon leaders had to say about the Boy Scouts of America.
Robert Work, Deputy Secretary of Defense
“You know how the president signs a bill and has 10 pens?” asked Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense. “I want all 10 of you to sign this with my personal pens.”
Work presented each delegate with a very nice souvenir pen, which each used to sign Work’s copy of the Report to the Nation.
“You can keep the pen, and we will display this proudly in the Pentagon,” he said. (Later, Work could be heard asking an aide to place the signed report in a display case in Work’s office.)
After a group photo, Work shared his thoughts about the Boy Scouts of America.
“Boy Scouts is an unbelievably awesome organization,” he said.
Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Gen. Paul Selva, our country’s second highest-ranking military officer and a four-star general, is no stranger to Scouting. He’s an Eagle Scout.
So when he talks about the value of Scouting, he’s speaking from experience.
“Leaders aren’t born,” he said. “They come from a lifetime of curiosity and development. You guys are starting that journey.”
Life isn’t scripted, Selva said. It can change at any time and require you to act.
“Scouting prepares you for that moment — that second in time when something happens and you’re asked to lead,” he said. “You never know when that will be.”
— The Joint Staff (@thejointstaff) February 29, 2016
Gen. Mark Milley, chief of staff for the U.S. Army
When the four-star general and highest-ranking Army officer learned that the Boy Scouts of America has 2.3 million youth members, he was impressed.
“You guys are bigger than we are,” Gen. Mark Milley said, drawing laughs.
On Twitter, Gen. Milley called the delegates an “outstanding group of young people.”
— GEN Mark A. Milley (@GENMarkMilley) February 29, 2016
Lt. Gen. William Mayville Jr., director of the Joint Staff
Though a frequently moving military family prevented him from staying in Scouting for very long, Lt. Gen. William Mayville holds strong opinions about the value of and need for Scouting.
“You’re really the DNA of the military — values, service, leadership,” he said. “We have a lot in common.”
Mayville said organizations like the Boy Scouts of America feed into the military and keep it strong. But Mayville understands not every Boy Scout will join the armed forces and that Scouts go on to serve in other ways.
“Whether you go into the military or any part of life, I know you’ll hold tight the values, your sense of ethics, your deep respect for our country and what it represents, and the importance of citizenship and civic duty,” he said.
“I just encourage you to follow your dreams,” Mayville continued. “This program teaches discipline, respect, values, honor, patriotism. It’s OK to love your country and to be proud of it. I am. Don’t let anybody take it for granted. My hat’s off to you guys.”
The Scouts were inspired as they left the lunch meeting with Mayville. Sean Nichols, an 8-year-old Cub Scout, summarized one big reason why.
“It’s not every day that you get to have lunch with a general,” he said.
2015 Report to the Nation
Photos by Michael Roytek and Randy Piland.