Boy Scouts from across Utah raised the American flag to half staff while flanked by other Scouts holding the flags of 150 different nations in a poignant ceremony Thursday at This Is the Place Heritage Park.
The ceremony preceded the launching of the next phase of the Scouts' participation in the cleanup project "Take Pride in Utah 2: Getting Ready for Company," in advance of the 2002 Winter Games.
Paul Tikalsky, director of finance and marketing for the Boy Scouts' Great Salt Lake Council, said the flag ceremony and short meeting was emotional for everyone in attendance in light of this week's terrorist attacks on the United States.
"It was one of the first official flag ceremonies in the state since the tragedies Tuesday," Tikalsky said. "A lot of the boys didn't know how to put the flag to half-mast, so we had to teach them how. Considering the week we've had nationally, it was heartwarming."
Gov. Mike Leavitt spoke to the Scouts in attendance and told them they were where, 150 years earlier, Brigham Young declared this was the place to settle. He said Young predicted that one day all nations would flow into the state as they will with the Olympics.
Leavitt encouraged the Scouts to help clean all that they can before the Olympics, not just the state parks but also their own houses and their neighbors' yards. The governor passed out to the Scouts special Take Pride in Utah patches with his signature on the back.
Three Boy Scouts of America council presidents of Utah, Robert Stringham, Lawry Hunsaker and Tom Powell, also attended the meeting.
"There will be 3 billion-plus people watching the Games live and on television and this will help Utah put their best foot forward," said Darin Bird, assistant director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources. "We just have the best group here with over 180,000 Scouts in Utah, and this showcases their voluntarism. Especially now, it shows what's right in America."
After the ceremony some of the Scouts helped with various projects around This Is the Place Heritage Park before hurrying back to school.
Cleaning and restoration projects from Hyrum to Cedar City have been listed on the Web site www.takeprideinutah.org where Scouts and their leaders can find a project in their area and sign up for it online. There is a wide array of projects available including fence mending, dead wood removal and removing trash and weeds from trails.