HILLSBOROUGH: Boy Scout Troop 1776 gets inside tour of nation’s capital  

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Troop 1776 gathers around the World War II Memorial during its trip to the nation’s capital

By Harvey Golden, Assistant Scoutmaster
Fifty Hillsborough area Boy Scouts from Troop 1776 in Neshanic were whisked through Secret Service checkpoints for their tour of the White House as one stop of a three-day visit to the nation’s capital May 20-22.
The Scouts had the opportunity to view 13 of the rooms, including the Green, Blue, Red, State Dining, Cross rooms and entrance hall. To many Scouts, the highlight of the tour was talking with all of the different levels of Secret Service and being escorted out the front entrance.
Washington has a rich history of Boy Scouts, dating back from 1911. The first Boy Scout National Jamboree was held near the Washington Monument in 1937. President Howard Taft first held the position as honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America and every president since has held the title.
From the White House, Troop 1776 was rushed for its tour of the Capitol, where it received a special tour of the Exhibition Hall and learned the history of Congress. They also marveled at the New Jersey statues of Richard Stockton, a member of the Continental Congress from Princeton and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and Philip Kearny, a brigadier general in the Civil War in the Army of the Potomac.
U.S. Representative Leonard Lance arranged the inside tour through the help of staffer Kelly Waters. The Scouts would like to thank Congressman Lance not only for representing the people of Hillsborough Township on a daily basis, but for also taking the time to make the trip to Washington “one of a lifetime.”
After the U.S. Capitol tour, local resident and assistant troop Scoutmaster (and parent) Mike Baker had arranged for an exclusive private behind-the-scenes tour of the Washington Capitol Police Department Bomb Squad.
Seeing bomb-sniffing K-9s to robots doesn’t get any cooler for young boys. The Scouts got the opportunity to hear from and ask a million questions of three officers and see everything they use to stop bomb threats.
The Scouts finished day one at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, where they watched a National Parks 100-year anniversary film on IMAX. This was a special treat, especially for those Scouts going this summer to whitewater raft the Grand Canyon over eight days.
The troop finished the day back at Greenbelt National Park campground, where the Scouts set up camp and cooked evening dinner.
After a great meal and a good night sleep under the D.C. stars, the Scouts were up before sunrise and ready to take on another day in Washington, D.C. This day was all about Arlington National Cemetery, for a Boy Scout is reverent.
The Scouts started their morning performing a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesite of Grady Hubert Wright, the great-grandfather of troop Boy Scouts Matthew and Trey Wright and grandfather of Assistant Scoutmaster David Wright, a captain in the Navy. They were joined by their extended family and friends.
All Boy Scouts participated in this ceremony. Scout Christopher Masiello had the honor to play taps on his bugle. Troop Senior Patrol Leader Jacob Romano led a prayer, Timothy Vandervliet was the master of ceremonies, and Joshua Worman, Vaughn Colva, Jake Ford and Brendan O’Kane performed the flag ceremony.
After the ceremony the Scouts witnessed the changing of the guard and wreath ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The Boy Scouts got to roam the grounds and see the gravesites of presidents John F. Kennedy and Taft, Arlington House, and 9/11 Memorial, to name a few.There are more than 400,000 service members and their family members buried in Arlington.
Special thanks to Brendan O’Kane, an 8th grader at Hillsborough Middle School and a Life Scout in Troop 1776. (Editor’s note: He and Mr. Golden spent a year planning the trip and making the arrangements.) for his exemplary leadership as commander and chief of Troop 1776 Washington. If it were not for his willingness to aim for the moon and his perseverance over the past 12 months, we lucky few from Hillsborough Township would not have had the honor and privilege to experience Washington, D.C. as we did.