As we celebrate Veteran’s Day, we honor our military veterans, those who sacrificed for our country, and we celebrate our American history. The history of America is our hope for the future. It is a history of incredible valor, sacrifice, tragedy, love, war, struggle, failure, victory, diversity, and unity. Empires rise and fall. It is up to the next generations, including the next generations of Girl Scouts, to keep the United States of America still rising. The struggle for democracy, equality, human rights, and justice continues to be endless. As a teenager, as an American, as a Girl Scout, as a child of immigrants, and a child of an Army Soldier, I am the future of America. We are the future of America. It is up to me and my generation to honor the country in which we live and the earth on which we stand. How better to honor our country than to understand its history, study why certain choices were made, why some consequences were unforeseen, and what lessons were learned. The Spanish American philosopher, George Santayana, wrote “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” In the end, we can only embrace those who, with full knowledge, sacrificed so that we can live on.
Juliette Gordon Low founded Girl Scouts in 1912, with an emphasis on empowerment, citizenship, outdoor survival, diversity, self-reliance, and service. Courage, diversity, survival, and service have always been this country’s legacies. European colonization began in the 16th century and the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies. The American Revolution began in 1775 and our Soldiers bravely fought as the United States became the first country to gain independence from a European power. Great military revolutions of the past have suggested that changes in society and politics are the most revolutionary forces of all. The Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776 and our new nation was born. Our brilliant and wise Founding Fathers constructed The Constitution which, since 1788, has been the supreme law of the United States. Though amended many times to meet our changing needs through history, this remarkable document guarantees our fundamental rights and has guided our country through its rise as the world’s great superpower.
Throughout our country’s history, the Girl Scouts have contributed greatly during our toughest times of war and struggle. During World War I and World War II, girls involved in Scouts helped the Allied forces by selling defense bonds, growing victory gardens, and collecting waste fat and scrap iron. During World War II, Girl Scouts served the country by operating bicycle courier services, running Farm Aide projects, and collecting scrap metal that were then used to manufacture tanks, bombs, ammunition, and other military supplies. Due to labor and transportation shortages, trains and trucks were being used to move soldiers and equipment instead of agricultural produce. Therefore, Americans were encouraged to grow their own vegetables in order to ensure everyone at home had enough to eat. Girl Scouts participated in this endeavor by growing their own Victory Gardens. They also sponsored Defense Institutes that taught women survival skills and techniques for reassuring children during air raids. Japanese-American girls, confined, unfortunately, to internment camps in Utah and California, did not let their unfair situation stifle their accomplishments and they established troops of their own. Adventurous Girl Scouts, interested in flying and wanting to serve their country, participated in the Wing Scouts program (that started in 1941 and ended in the 1970’s).
By the 1950s, GSUSA had begun significant national efforts to desegregate the Girl Scout camps and maintain racial balance. Martin Luther King, Jr. described Girl Scouts as “a force for desegregation”. Girl Scouts also assisted the war effort again during the Korean War by assembling “Kits for Korea.” These “kits” contained various essentials for Korean citizens, including soaps and important first aid items. Girl Scouts continued to press for issues of inclusiveness and equality which Juliette Lowe so valued. Ebony magazine reported in 1952 that even in the South, “. . . Scouts were making slow and steady progress toward surmounting the racial barriers of the region.” In 1969, a national Girl Scout initiative called Action 70 was created that aimed to eliminate prejudice. In today’s time of global war against terrorism, Girl Scout support their military by doing service projects such as carrying out flag ceremonies, collecting food for food drives, and collecting I-Care donations during the annual sale of Girl Scout Cookies, (which started in 1917 as a money-earning opportunity for councils and troops). Girl Scouts also spread their values into their communities through community service projects such as soup kitchens and food drives.
We are currently threatened with international instability, environmental degradation, and nuclear threats. As we face serious issues with extremism, domestic discord, and global tensions, our country fights to regain balance. We must embrace our diversity of religions, cultures, and beliefs to form an unbreakable unity. We must remember who we are and where we came from, not only individually with our inevitable differences but also as one indivisible country with profound unity. We must remember that we are a history of those who fought for our rights, our ideals, and our freedoms. We are our past, we are our present, and we are our future. We are The United States of America.
Take a look at a little bit of Girl Scout History below: