For God and Country

Nick Speltz assists Trail Life mom Trudie Sahnger with planting more than 800 small American flags on the DeSoto County Courthouse lawn to celebrate Independence Day.

The sea of red, white and blue flags fluttered in the warm summer breeze across the DeSoto County Courthouse lawn over the Independence Day holiday — more than 800 total.

Members of the Trail Life Scout Troop 0412 worked quietly on the eve of the nation's holiday to plant the flags on the courthouse lawn, after obtaining permission from DeSoto County officials.

"It took us several hours to set up the flags," said Trudie Sangher of Hernando, whose son Zachary, now 18, is a former Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts of America.

Sangher helped place many of the flags upright after a brief but violent windstorm on the July 4th holiday.

Zachary is now involved in the Trail Life organization which teaches self reliance, leadership, moral integrity, responsibility and purity in the lives of young men, according to his mom.

The troop took its name from a verse in the Fourth Chapter of First Timothy, Verse 12: "Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity."

Sangher said Zachary joined Trail Life when he was 13 and is part of the growing Trail Life movement.

"Trail Life has helped my son gain confidence as a leader," Sangher said. "He knows how to survive outdoors, set up a tent, enjoys whitewater rafting and all kinds of activities."

Sangher, who moved to DeSoto County from North Carolina when her husband got a job with FedEx, said the organization is one of a number gaining a foothold in the Mid-South.

"Trail Life is part of a national organization," Sangher said. "Young men need to know what manhood is really about. It's about being a leader, being head of the home and knowing how to take care of yourself in the wild. We try to teach purity as well."

Bryan Houston is the troop leader for Trail Life Troop No. 0412, sponsored by Longview Point Baptist Church in Hernando.

"Trail Life is in all 50 states now and there are more than 800 troops," Houston said. "We have close to 20 troops in Mississippi. There are two in DeSoto County, with one troop that meets at Carriage Hills Baptist Church and the other at Longview Point Baptist.

"Trail Life is a Christ-centered outdoor youth leadership program," Houston said. "We have roughly 40 kids. Our oldest is going into the 11th grade. One of the trail badges that we give out is for our flag. The badge teaches them the different parts of the flag and what they mean. It's all about respecting our country. The flag stands for freedom."

Robert Lee Long is Community Editor of the DeSoto Times-Tribune. He may be contacted at rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252

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