USSSP: A Scout's Duty to God and Country

Some Thoughts on A Scout's Duty to God and Country

The Scout Oath and the Scout Law ask a Scout to pledge his honor to do his best to do his duty to God and his country and to be reverant. Here is what two of America's most famous movie actors had to say about duty to God and country and about reverance:

Jimmy Stewart

Actor Jimmy Stewart was active in Troop 3 in Indiana, PA as a youth and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. On being presented the Distinguished Scouter Award in 1980, he recited the Scout Oath and then explained what the Scout Oath meant to him. In describing a Scout's Duty to God and Country, he said:

"To do my duty." Duty - that implies a moral or legal obligation to follow a certain code of conduct. Duty means playing by the rules, reaching deep into your own conscience for the meaning of these rules and giving just a little beyond and doing just a little bit more than is expected.

"To God and my country." Duty to God - means a lot more than saying a prayer every time you need a favor. A lot more. Duty to God is simply that voluntary gesture you must make and remake a million times in your lifetime as a statement of your recognition that there is someone above this universe who watches over this universe and to whom each of us is a favorite son. Duty to God is a lifetime thank-you note our hearts send out in appreciation for the life that has been loaned to us here on earth.

John Wayne

Actor John Wayne, who was a Scout in his youth, was honored by President Ford, an Eagle Scout, at the same black-tie, benefit dinner where Jimmy Stewart spoke. (The proceeds were for the purchase of land to be called the John Wayne Outpost Camp at the Lake Arrowhead Scout Camps in the Los Angeles Area Council.) President Ford said, "It occurs to me that John Wayne, like so many other great Americans, has never lost the sense that there is a higher good, something outside the individual, which each of us should seek to achieve."

John Wayne recited the Scout Law and commented, "Nice words. Trouble is, we learn them so young we sometimes don't get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age I make sure he learns the Scout Law. Then I break it down for him with a few things I've picked up in the more than half century since I learned it."

Commenting on "Reverant," John Wayne put it simply, "Believe in anything you want to believe in, but keep God at the top of it. With Him, life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you're just biding time."

From Scouting Magazine, October 1980.

Contributed by:

Edward G. Hatlem
Assistant Council Commissioner
Viking Council

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