The second point of the Scout Law is this: A Scout is Loyal. Great. The word “loyal” has a nice sound to it, and we all know that loyalty is something good, but just what is loyalty, anyway?
John Wayne said, “The very word ‘loyalty’ is life itself, for without loyalty, we have no love of person or country”. Okay, now I’m really lost.
Webster says: “Loyalty is allegiance to one’s country and government; faithfulness to a person, ideal or cause.” That helped a little bit, but maybe some examples would do better. Loyalty is illustrated through a collection of actions, some simple and some quite noble.
I say that loyalty is seen when an older brother helps his younger sister with her algebra homework, because his parents can no longer remember how it’s done.
Loyalty is a mother going off to a job she hates, because there are bills to pay, and she feels that she owes this to her family.
Loyalty is a father taking a part time job at night so that he can do a little more for his kids.
Loyalty is a grandfather who waits in his car outside of school so that his grandson won’t have to walk home in the rain.
Loyalty is a husband taking his wife to her favorite Chinese restaurant, even though he himself hates Chinese food.
Loyalty is a baseball coach who gives of himself so that the children in his community can play organized baseball.
Loyalty is shown by a scout troop wearing their uniforms to all troop functions, to show pride in whom they are, both separately and together.
Loyalty is visiting your grandmother in the nursing home, when you’d rather be out with your friends.
Loyalty—not a paycheck—is what makes a fireman go back into a burning building, risking his own life to save that of another.
Loyalty is picking up litter on the bike path, or painting a fence on the green, so that your community will be improved.
Loyalty is an older scout teaching a younger scout how to tie a knot, or save a life. It is part of an endless cycle of giving and getting that in scouting has repeated itself for decades, as men have continually helped boys to become better men.
And finally, loyalty is that which causes young men to give their lives in battle for their country’s sake. And it is what inspires old men to plant trees that they know they will never sit under. Yes, John Wayne had it right; without loyalty, we have no love of person or country.
A Scout is Loyal. I once had a boss who said, “Greed makes the world go ‘round”. He was wrong. An ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness. What makes families and communities and countries work—indeed, what makes the world go ‘round—is loyalty. And a Scout is Loyal. Thank you.