“When I arrived at RNC [Riverside National Cemetery] and saw those veterans in formation to provide military honors to a fallen soldier, and that Boy Scout in uniform with his bugle, I started to tear-up. I thought: This is it – this is our America worth fighting for; this is Norman Rockwell’s America; it just doesn’t get better than this.”
So said Bagpiper Frank Cormany, who was himself in uniform (Scottish kilt) as he joined American Legion Post 79 Memorial Honor Detail, Team 12, to participate in paying final tribute on behalf of a grateful nation to an American who served when his country called.
The Boy Scout he referenced is Robert Morgan, 13, a member of Boy Scout Troop 101 in Banning, Calif., the son of Chuck and Donna Morgan of rural Poppet Flats in the San Gorgonio Pass.
Boy Scout Robert Morgan is but one of more than 3,000,000 American youth being served by the Scouts who celebrate Feb. 5-11, 2006, as “Scouting Anniversary Week,” honoring U.S. Scouting’s birth in the United States on Feb. 8, 1910.
The Boy Scouts’ birth has been seen by some as accidental; by others as providential: British military hero Lord Robert Baden-Powell founded the Boy Scouts in 1907. Chicago publisher William D. Boyce became lost in the fog in London, and was helped by a young boy to find his way. When Boyce offered the boy a tip, the boy declined, saying that it was his duty as a Boy Scout to help others.
Boyce was so impressed by the boy’s character that he met with Baden-Powell to discuss bringing the Scouts to the United States. Boyce was helped by Ernest Thompson Seton, Daniel Carter Beard and James E. West, and the Boy Scouts of America was incorporated in Washington, D.C., Feb. 8, 1910. Congress issued a federal charter protecting the Boy Scouts name and insignia, on June 16, 1916.
Millions of American men have had their ethical and moral characters shaped by the Boy Scout’s Oath and Law in the 96 years of its effort to help American boys to “Be Prepared,” and “Morally Straight” and adult men of character. Every president of the United States has been involved with the Scouts in some capacity before election, with one exception. And all U.S. presidents have agreed to serve as honorary president of the Boy Scouts during his term of office.
Notwithstanding, the Boy Scouts of America has been under nationwide attack by the American Civil Liberties Union by multiple lawsuits against the Scouts for their refusal to admit overt homosexuals as Scout leaders and for the Scout Oath to do “my duty to God and my Country.” The ACLU’s hate-litigation attack increased in ferocity after the Supreme Court ruled in 2000 in the Dale case that the Scouts have the right to set their own standards for Scout leaders.
Many schools and other local government bodies have withdrawn sponsorship or support for the Boy Scouts due to the chilling affect of the ACLU’s lawsuits or threats of lawsuits – including threats to seek court-ordered, taxpayer-paid attorney fees – on the ACLU’s claim that the Scouts are a “religion” because of the Scout Oath, and any governmental assistance is a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Although most Americans would conclude on a common-sense basis that it is preposterous to contend the Boy Scouts are “a religion,” the ACLU convinced a like-minded lawyer sitting as federal judge in Chicago to hold that Department of Defense assistance to the annual Boy Scout Jamboree – which every president of the U.S. has supported – is a violation of the Establishment Clause because the Boy Scouts is a “religion.”
Congress responded to attacks on the Boy Scouts by passage of the bipartisan Support Our Scouts Act of 2005, which President Bush, himself a former Cub Scout, signed into law on Dec. 30, 2005. It provides that the Boy Scouts cannot be excluded from governmental facilities, programs, or forums.
Many Americans have come forward to stand with the Scouts against the hate-litigation of the ACLU, including, among others, the wartime veterans in the 2.7-million member American Legion, which sponsors over 2,500 Boy Scout Troops:
“The American Legion will stand with the Boy Scouts all the way to the Supreme Court,” American Legion National Commander Tom Bock has pledged, adding: “The American Legion strongly supports the Public Expression of Religion Act, HR 2679, which will withdraw the authority of judges to award the ACLU attorney fees in Establishment Clause lawsuits against the Boy Scouts and public bodies which support them.”
The famous Scout Oath, which now generates so much ACLU hate-litigation despite being in use in building character in boys for 96 years, states only:
On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To Keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
The Scout Law provides only:
A Scout is: Trustworthy, Obedient, Loyal, Cheerful, Helpful, Thrifty, Friendly, Brave, Courteous, Clean, Kind, Reverent.
These are the principles the ACLU attacks in its hate-litigation to destroy the Scouts.
The Boy Scouts, despite the drain on its resources in fighting the hate-litigation of the ACLU, has refused to abandon the Scout Oath, or the Scout Law, or its standards in fulfilling its mission to serve youth.
“The purpose of the Boy Scouts of America is the same today as it was 96 years ago,” states Chief Scout Executive Roy L. Williams. “Scouting has remained constant and true to its mission and helping them learn to make better decisions throughout their lives.”
A Harris Interactive study in 2005, “The Values of Americans – A Study of Ethics and Character,” found that, in fact, the Scout’s principles have been successful in aiding boys to develop ethical character as boys, and has carried over into their lives when these boys became men.
Scout Robert Morgan is but one example of that success: He embodies each of the character traits of the Scout Law by all accounts, including those of the veterans with whom he serves his country and who have adopted him into their ranks, and hearts – the church clergy and members with whom he serves his God; his Scout Troop leaders; his coaches on the Pass Stingrays swim team; and all those involved in his homeschooling curricular and extra-curricular activities.
Robert achieved the status of Life Scout in 2005 at the age of 12, and is working on achieving Eagle Scout rank.
“I hope to make Eagle Scout with a project involving veterans,” Robert says. “My ultimate goal is to be admitted to the Air Force Academy, and serve my country as a pilot.”
Scout Morgan started playing bugle at military services at Riverside National Cemetery in October 2004, only six months after playing trumpet – a 12-year-old serving on teams of men, veterans ranging from World War II to Desert Storm. “It took courage, and a lot of self-confidence,” says Donna Morgan of her son.
He volunteers as bugler two days a month at Riverside National Cemetery for three teams: American Legion Riverside Post 79; the Veterans of Foreign Wars team from Soboda Reservation; and the National Guard memorial honor detail.
“We appreciate very much all the help that Robert [Morgan] has given us veterans. He is an outstanding young American,” says Robert Castillo, founder and Captain of American Legion MHD Team 12 at RNC. Castillo, as a teenager in the U.S. Navy, fought at both Omaha and Utah beaches, and was severely wounded at Normandy on D-Day.
Robert may appear a boy among men, but he is not perceived that way by the veterans, who have adopted him as one of their own.
“He’s not a ‘bugle-boy,’ he is a ‘bugler.’ He is one of us. And God help the ACLU or anyone else who would bring harm to that young man,” says ramrod –straight former Marine Ron Tallent of Legion Team 12.
How do boys like Robert modernly develop the character traits called for in the Boy Scout Law? “It doesn’t ‘take a village;’ it takes parents,” says Tallent. “Robert is lucky – we are all lucky – that he has parents like Chuck and Donna Morgan.”
The Morgans have made conscious life choices to sacrifice material comfort to dedicate themselves to raising their three children: Melissa, 15, who is active in the “Venturers,” the co-ed Scouting program for youth 14-20 that features “high-adventure” activities, like whitewater rafting; Robert; and Michael, 6.
Chuck Morgan is a business consultant who does training for recreational vehicle sales. Donna Morgan has foregone a second income, and dedicates herself to being a full-time mother.
The Morgans moved from the city to live in a rented home in a rural area, and are homeschooling all three children through a charter school “to give them a chance to grow up away from all the pressures and negative influences of the city,” says Chuck Morgan.
“Sure, we have made sacrifices. We don’t have a second income. We do without many things to create this situation for our kids. But to us, its not a sacrifice – not at all, its for our kids,” he says.
Asked how he feels about Robert’s achievements as a Scout, and as working with veterans as a bugler, he answers simply: “I couldn’t be prouder of him. He is a wonderful son.”
Donna Morgan has her hands full homeschooling the kids – all three of whom are excelling – taking them to and assisting them in the many extracurricular and community activities in which they are involved, including spending two days a months at Riverside National Cemetery as Robert bugles for the Military Honor Details.
“I think it is a great experience for him, participating with the veterans, honoring the veterans for their service to our country in this way,” Donna Morgan says. “Robert is a regular kid – he has his moments. But, he is a very purposeful, diligent person. He sets goals, and he goes after them, and has been successful. Scouting has been very beneficial to him.”
Donna shares her husband’s views that the choices they have made are no sacrifice: “We have made choices which we knew would mean that there would not be material things. We live in rented home; we don’t have a fancy car; we don’t have fancy clothes. But, we have our kids … and I wouldn’t trade what we have for anything.”
Both believe that Scouting has been an extremely valuable experience for Robert.
“How can anyone attack the Boy Scouts, who are helping parents like Chuck and Donna Morgan to produce fine young boys and men like Robert? I don’t understand it,” D-Day survivor and MHD Team 12 Captain Robert Castillo says. “The ACLU, and others like them, they should be ashamed.”
Rees Lloyd is a former American Civil Liberities Union attorney.