Trail Life USA, a Christ-centered scouting organization for boys, is paying tribute to veterans this Fourth of July.
On this Independence Day, troops were encouraged to think about those fighting in America's armed forces and celebrate our forefathers who fought for the ideals the nation was built upon.
"Trail Life USA wants boys to understand these veterans are living examples of courage, determination, and sacrifice," said Mark Hancock, Trail Life CEO. "With freedom comes responsibility, and few are better equipped to teach that to our boys than American veterans of war. It is a great honor to live in the land of the free and the home of the brave.
"We love it when boys honor the people who make freedom possible. It's a practical lesson. Boys hear us talk about adventure, character, and leadership, but these men and women embody those traits."
Richard Haritan, chaplain for Trail Life Troop 0412 in Illinois, shared how his troop spent time volunteering with veterans and participating in local parades in the village of Palatine.
"We honor that which deserves honor. Our U.S. military has earned honor through over 240 years of defending freedom and protecting our great nation's citizenry, and by keeping the world safe for other freedom-loving countries," explained Haritan.
During one parade, Haritan asked each boy in his troop to find a veteran, introduced themselves, then give the veteran a flag, followed by a proper salute.
"Saluting the veteran was our final act," Haritan said, "and the door to a greater realization of the immensity of gratitude that is due toward our men and women in the U.S. military. As emotion welled up, it was often met with surprise, and at times, tears held back by the veteran. On occasion, those around us thanked us for taking the time to honor that which is honorable."
Hancock commended Troop IL-0412 for their efforts.
"What these young men did is exactly the display of character and respect we want Trail Life boys to represent. They honored the veterans, demonstrated respect, and then surprised the veterans with a proper military salute," Hancock stated. "This is the story of two different generations, each inspiring the other."
The ministry focuses on teaching generations of young men to honor God, lead with integrity, serve others, and experience outdoor adventure. Founded in 2013, it inspires boys from kindergarten through the 12th grade to become godly men.
Trail Life USA has over 900 troops with nearly 40,000 members in all 50 states.