I was escorting six 15 to 17 year-old Eagle Scouts to a rendezvous point in the US, where they would become part of a contingent of 24 Eagle Scouts flying to Japan. There, they were to represent the Boy Scouts of America as guests of the Scout Association of Japan and the Japanese government for two weeks.
In other words, they weren't just Boy Scouts, they were Eagle Scouts.
They weren't just Eagle Scouts, but had been selected to represent the BSA as American youth ambassadors.
And . . . they were in complete Boy Scout uniform, in public, without embarrassment.
Four of the six were pulled aside by airport security for the complete pat-down and hand-wand inspection. Then the security guards told me that all six Scout must surrender their large metal Philmont Scout Ranch belt buckles, because they were too big and could be used as a weapon.
I explained where we were going, that the boys had no extra belts, that, although Boy Scouts, their pants were baggy and would drop to their ankles without a belt. The guard still wanted the buckles.
I explained that these Scouts were ambassadors, would be meeting the highest-ranking leaders of Scouting in Japan, the Japanese Minister of Education, and other governmental leaders, and asked if it would be appropriate for them to spend two weeks holding their pants up with one hand.
About this time, a National Guardsman at the security point who had been listening to the entire conversation walked up to the guard and basically said, "Listen, Buddy. I'm an Eagle Scout. I know what those Philmont buckles mean. I have one. I am holding a rifle. My rifle is bigger than your gun. These young men are on their way to Japan WITH their Philmont buckles. Is there any part of that statement that you don't understand?"
We had a great time in Japan, and none of the Scout attempted any terroristic acts, with or without their Philmont belt buckles.
And I forgot the most important part. Congratulations to Troop 44. A Boy Scout is Helpful. This Scouter is proud of you.
Second, thank you for sharing that (pathetic) story about the "security" personnel trying to take the Philmont buckles away from your Scouts. (I've been to Philmont and still remember the experience, 49 years later. And I am an Eagle, though I never had an opportunity to do what your group did in their trip to Japan.) I'm glad that a saner head prevailed in that confrontation.
Odds are, that taught your young men something about the institutional stupidity of bureaucrats, and the take-charge common sense that Scouts, and especially Eagles, should display when confronted with a challenge.
That's a great story!!
I just needed my project to make Eagle but it seemed so un-important at that time...
Thank you for helping to mold the new generation of American leaders.
No matter how little power we give to the government, they manage to abuse it!
What a great story.
I had the privilege of acting as one of 6 leaders for a group of 25 Venture Scouts (23 young gentlemen and 12 young ladies) to Japan on a similar trip. It was the summer of 2004 and we took a tour of Toyko, spent a weekend with some Japanese families, spent 6 days and nights at Japan's 6th Venture Jamboree, and spent 3 days and nights at a hotel in Narita at the Asia-Pacific Youth Forum with a Japanese contingent and a contingent from all over the area, including Scouts and Scouters from Nepal, Bhutan, French Polynesia, India, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangladesh, Australia, New Zealand, etc., etc. Great fun. Great kids. What a privelege.