This is Unsung Heroes, a Bryan on Scouting blog series celebrating under-reported acts of Scouting heroism. These are stories that don’t make national headlines — but should. That’s doubly true in this world that can always use more good news. Read the latest story below, and find instructions for sharing your own Unsung Heroes story at the end of the post.
When Zach and JonMichael Fenimore performed their act of heroism, they didn’t know someone was watching.
They didn’t know that same someone would report their good deed to officials in their school district. And they certainly didn’t expect word to reach one of the big TV news stations in Dallas-Fort Worth.
To me, that makes the Texas brothers’ patriotic deed even more remarkable. When you’re a Scout, you do what’s right. You don’t expect a ticker-tape parade, a medal or even a simple thumbs up. Scouts derive satisfaction from the Good Turn itself — not the praise that comes after.
Earlier this year, Zach and JonMichael were walking home from middle school when they passed their former elementary school. Right away they saw something wasn’t right.
The school day was over, but the American flag was still flying. (Flag etiquette says the flag should be lowered daily if the pole is not lighted.)
A patriotic act
Zach and JonMichael knew that Mr. Jim Epps, the school’s longtime crossing guard and a Navy veteran, took the flag down each day. They knew because they helped Epps lower the flag when they were students at Dickinson Elementary.
Fearing that something was wrong with Epps, the boys performed the flag-lowering task themselves. They folded the Stars and Stripes into a perfect triangle, using the technique they perfected in Scouting and as members of the Junior Cadet Corps — a precursor to the Junior ROTC.
And they assumed the story would end there.
But they didn’t know that an employee from the school district had been watching and snapped a photo of the boys. That employee sent the photo to an official within the Grand Prairie Independent School District. Before long, the photo ended up on the district’s Facebook page.
“I see students doing a good deed,” the district employee, Gay Lynn Broom, told the local NBC station. “That’s character. What you do when no one is looking, that’s character.”
Zach and JonMichael’s instincts about Epps were correct, by the way. The crossing guard had been hospitalized the day the boys walked by. Epps was later released and recovered from his ailment.
‘That’s what should be done’
Zach and JonMichael, both Star Scouts in Troop 195 of the BSA’s Circle Ten Council, were surprised when their story ended up on a local news segment called “Tell Me Something Good.”
“We don’t get why this has become such a big deal,” Zach told his parents, Angie and Russell. “We did it, because that’s what should be done.”
“When you see something isn’t right, you step in,” JonMichael said.
Angie and Russell Fenimore told the boys exactly why it became a “big deal.”
“Not everyone does the right thing when no one is watching,” Angie told them. “They want to recognize you for the character you’ve shown.”
Share your Unsung Heroes story
Stories like these brighten my day — especially because I know this kind of thing happens regularly in Scouting.
Here’s how to share the news of an Unsung Hero in your pack, troop or crew:
- Send an email to me with the subject line “Unsung Heroes.”
- Include a detailed summary of the heroic act.
- Include any “supporting documentation” you can. Examples include links to a story in your local newspaper, paperwork for a Scouting heroism award nomination or eyewitness accounts.
- Include high-res photos of the Unsung Hero.