Category Archives: Holidays

Memorial Day

Memorial Day, a United States federal holiday for remembering the brave men and women who died while serving our country, is observed each year on the last Monday of May. This year it is today, May 25, 2015. People around the nation visit cemeteries and memorials and place American flags on graves to honor those who have died in military service.

Girl Scouts from Sumter County, Ga. place flags on graves in Andersonville National Cemetery

1976: Girl Scouts from Sumter County, Ga. place flags on graves in Andersonville National Cemetery

Girl Scouts have always been involved in volunteerism on and around Memorial Day. In the above picture from 1976, flags are placed on graves by Girl Scouts in Andersonville National Cemetery in Andersonville, Georgia. As well as placing flags, there are so many things you and your troop can do to celebrate and honor Memorial Day! Learn the history of Memorial Day (did you know that it was originally called Decoration Day?), or make a wreath for your troop to place at a local war memorial. Also, make sure to participate in your community’s Memorial Day parade, waving your flags high and proudly wearing your Girl Scout uniform!

Girl Scout float, Randolph County, Ga. parade: 1958

Girl Scout float, Randolph County, Ga. parade: 1958

Whatever you do on this unofficial start of summer, don’t forget to honor the men and women who died serving our country. And don’t forget that important part of the Girl Scout Promise:

“On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

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National Maritime Day and Mariner Scouts

Every year on May 22, The United States observes National Maritime Day, a holiday created in 1933 to recognize the maritime industry. It was May 22, 1819 that the American steamship, Savannah, set sail from Savannah, Georgia on the first ever transoceanic voyage under steam power. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Division, “The United States has always been and will always be a great maritime nation. From our origins as 13 British colonies, through every period of peace and conflict since, the Merchant Marine has been a pillar in this country’s foundation of prosperity and security. They power the world’s largest economy and strengthen our ties with trading partners around the world, all while supporting our military forces by shipping troops and supplies wherever they need to go.”

So what exactly is the Merchant Marine? The Merchant Marine is the fleet of ships which carries imports and exports during peacetime and becomes a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war material. People who are in the Merchant Marine are referred to as mariners, seamen, seafarers, or sailors, but never Marines. People who are in the Merchant Marine are not military! They are civilians, just like us, and they were crucial to victory in World War II.

Mariner Scout membership pin, 1946-1963, photo courtesy of vintagegirlscout.com

Mariner Scout membership pin, 1946-1963, photo courtesy of vintagegirlscout.com

The Mariner Girl Scout program was officially launched in 1934, just one year after National Maritime Day was created in the United States. It was created for Senior Girl Scouts who were interested in nautical activities and whose troops had access to a body of water large enough to permit a comprehensive program of Mariner activities. By 1938, only one year before the launch of WWII in Europe when Germany invaded Poland, the Mariner Scout program had swept quickly throughout the country reaching a total registration of 3,484.

1946 Catalina Island Girl Scout Mariner Camp, photo courtesy Girl Scout Collector's Guide, 2nd Edition, 2005

1946 Catalina Island Girl Scout Mariner Camp, photo courtesy of Girl Scout Collector’s Guide, 2nd Edition, 2005

Although the Mariner Scout program was officially discontinued in 1963, today it has been re-instituted in a much smaller form.

Fun fact: Juliette Gordon Low was born and raised in Savannah, Ga., the same place from which the steamship Savannah set sail for the first ever transoceanic voyage. As a child, Juliette Low was sometimes affectionately called “the little ship under full sail” by her family!