Bush provides high note at Scout Jamboree

By Sgt. Maj. Chet Marcus and Sgt. Frank Pellegrini

FORT A.P. HILL, Va. (Army News Service, Aug. 1, 2005) — After four days of anticipation, President George W. Bush honored his National Scout Jamboree rain check in front of some 42,000 scouts, leaders and service members at the jamboree’s arena show July 31.

President George W. Bush waves to the
crowd at the National Scout Jamboree arena
show July 31.
Sgt. Joe Morris

“I’m standing in front of America’s future leaders,” Bush said to chants of “U.S.A., U.S.A.” that rolled across the arena field like the thunder that forced the cancellation of Wednesday’s scheduled visit. “If you follow your conscience and the ideals of a scout, there is no limit to what you can achieve,” he said.

Introduced by a boy scout, fellow Texan Daniel Valela, Bush delighted the crowd by noting prominent former scouts, including himself and Vice President Dick Cheney, former President (and Eagle Scout) Gerald Ford, and “the first man I see every morning,” White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, also in attendance.

In his 20-minute address, Bush offered his condolences for the four Alaskan scout leaders killed in an electrical accident July 25 and gave special thanks to Boy Scouts of America President John Cushman and Chief Scout Executive Roy L. Williams, Joint Task Force National Scout Jamboree Commander Army Maj. Gen. John A. Yingling and “all the troops who fight for our freedom.”

The ceremony featured both patriotic and popular music from the 85th Division (Institutional Training) Army Reserve Band, a hip-hop show with performers from the U.S. Army Band from the Military District of Washington, a dose of banjo-picking bluegrass by the U.S. Navy band, the 82nd Airborne Division Chorus and a laser-and-water show.

Throughout the evening, the live festivities were interspersed with video clips highlighting the different phases and values of Scouting. Scout officials followed Bush’s address by bestowing the Boy Scouts’ highest honor on the scout who saved his father’s life July 25.

Bush’s eagerly anticipated appearance seemed to bestow a sense of both healing and triumph on a Jamboree that has had its difficult moments — from Monday’s tragic accident in Sub camp 6 to the scores of heat casualties that occurred during Wednesday’s show in the same Arena area. Even Sunday’s relatively cool temperature and sheltering clouds seemed to signal that Nature was on the Scouts’ side this day.

The evening concluded with a firework celebration that combined the night’s already-planned display with those from the cancelled opening arena show June 27. The pyrotechnics lit up the night sky with a spectacle that many said they had never seen equaled.

The National Scout Jamboree ends Aug 3.

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