The Boy Scout Memorial (or the Boy Scout Commemorative Tribute, as the National Park Service [calls] it) is at once prominently situated while still being quite well camouflaged.
It’s located in President’s Park at the Ellipse, not far from the White House–really, between the White House and the National Mall. But it’s also tucked aware quite modestly in a small grove of trees.
There’s more to the location than just being in the thick of DC’s monuments just off the National Mall. It stands on the site of the First National Boy Scout Jamboree, held there in 1937.
The Three Symbolic Figures
This is a modest memorial, consisting of a small elliptical fountain/pond and a sculpture.
The sculpture consists of three figures standing on a hexagonal pedestal. From a distance, it looks a bit like family–parents and Scout. But as you get closer, it becomes clear that that’s not quite it.
The two adult figures, a man and a woman, are symbolic figures. Or, to be more precise, allegorical. They represent American Manhood and American Womanhood (the Memorial’s words, not mine). The depictions are a bit odd to modern eyes–both are somewhat Neoclassical and have only minimal coverage of some toga-like robes. One suspects different choices might be made if it was being built today.
An inscription explains what the figures are supposed to represent:
The two symbolical figures represent the sum of the great ideals of past civilizations, developed through the centuries and now at best as delivered by American Manhood and Womanhood to the present generation.
The Boy Scout aware of his fellowship with scouts around the world, and symbolic of all cub scouts, boy scouts, and explorers striding into the future, represents their hope that all that is fine in our Nation’s past will continue to live in future generations.
The male figure symbolizes love of country, citizenship, patriotism, loyalty, honor, integrity, courage, clean living, and physical development.
The female figure symbolizes the spiritual qualities of good citizenship–enlightenment with the light of faith, love of God, high ideals, liberty, freedom, democracy, love of humanity, lighting the way.
There are some inscriptions at the Memorial. Running around the rim of the pool is one that says:
In grateful tribute to the men and women whose generosity, devotion, and leadership have brought Scouting to the nation’s youth and to honor all members of the Boys Scouts of America who in days of peace and times of peril have done their duty to God and their country this memorial was authorized by the Congress of the United States and erected in recognition of the fiftieth anniversary of the Boy Scouts of America.
The pedestal of the Boy Scout Memorial features the Scout Oath, which reads:
On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.
The History of the Boy Scout Memorial
The Boy Scout Monument was commissioned by the National Capital Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, authorized in 1959 (73 Stat. 261) and dedicated on November 7, 1964.
It was sculptured by Donald De Lue. Its architect was William Henry Deacy.1
The statue was authorized in 1959 and dedicated in 1964. The funds to build this monument were raised by Scout units throughout the United States, and each donor signed one of several scrolls that were placed in the pedestal of the statue.
Photos of the Boy Scout Memorial in Washington DC
How to Get to the Boy Scout Memorial
The Boy Scout Monument is located at the intersection of Constitution Avenue and 15th Street NW, near the Ellipse and the White House.