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Girl Scouts Now and Then: Commemorating the Centennial of WWI

August 24, 2014

By Krista Park, Communications & Marketing Director

WWI Troop 734 Plus One with ReenactorGirl Scouts of today took a moment to stop and remember the past and live the Girl Scout Promise as they helped kickoff our state’s four year Centennial Commemoration of World War I on Saturday.

Girl Scouts from Troops #1790, #1773, #734, #864 and #221 lived joined World War I re-enactors in a procession at the state capitol at the event where they had the opportunity to meet NC State Governor Pat McCrory. Music by the NC National Guard Band serenaded the procession which ended with the laying of a memorial wreath at the base of the NC Veteran’s Monument. There, excerpts from President Woodrow Wilson’s War Message to Congress on April 2, 1917, were shared with the crowd.

When the war began in 1914, Girl Scouts was just two years old with just more than 1,000 members. All the same was the Girl Scout Promise – girls and volunteers proudly pledged to serve their country and to help people at all times. As a matter of fact, the first Girl Scout Handbook was titled How Girls Can Help Their Country, and by 1915 total membership had grown to approximately 5,000.

During this time, Girl Scouts everywhere were taking action and volunteered their services: working in hospitals, staffing railroad station canteens for trains transporting servicemen, growing and canning vegetables, selling bonds, and collecting peach pits for use in gas mask filters. Their public service helped to establish Girl Scouts on the national scene and resulted in a sudden expansion in membership during 1917-1918.

Girl Scouts - NC Coastal PinesThe Rally, an early magazine for Girl Scouts and leaders, reported that girls used part of the proceeds from one of the earliest Girl Scout cookie sales to buy ingredients to make candy to send soldiers.  Sounds a lot like our Operation Cookie Drop program today!

Girl Scouts also did their part in selling Liberty Bonds to support the allied cause with sales totaling $9,174,550! Now that’s pretty impressive. And a result, the US Treasury Department produced a Girl Scout War Service medal which was presented to girls who sold a large number of war bonds.  These Girl Scouts were our first Top Sellers – no surprise there.

Additionally, a Girl Scout War Service Pin was created to recognize girls for their service to the war effort. Girls could earn points by performing tasks such as knitting wool for the American Red Cross, selling Liberty bonds, and canning jams and jellies. The pin encouraged girls to contribute in ways that would provide value to those engaged in the war. As girls continued their efforts each year, they received additional ribbons to mark their participation.

And to top that off, Girl Scout founder Juliette Gordon Low was presented with a diamond Thanks Badge bought with pennies donated by Girl Scouts from all over the country at a Victory Rally celebrating the end of World War I on May 19, 1919. This badge recognizes individual whose ongoing commitment, leadership, and service have had an exceptional, measurable impact on meeting the goals and priorities of the entire Girl Scout Movement.  And I think we can all agree this particular badge was very well deserved!

Honoring the sacrifices made by so many one hundred years ago, Girl Scouts – NC Coastal Pines troops continue to serve their county by organizing and performing flag retirement ceremonies, writing thank you letters to deployed military personnel, and participating in countless community service projects.

How has your troop lived the Girl Scout Promise by serving their country? What are you planning for your troop that will help them learn about important history this year? Ready to get in on the Girl Scout fun? When you join by 9/30/14 as a girl or volunteer you’ll be entered to win an iPad!* Use event code 367F22 to enter to win. 

WWITroop221andReenactors
*First time, new members are eligible to win. Must be registered as a girl or volunteer by 9/30/14 to qualify.

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