By Utah National Parks Council
Oct 31, 2013

Hollywood Actor John Wayne’s Legacy of Duty to God

Teach the Cadence and the Meaning

As a young Boy Scout, I learned the Scout Oath. I recited it each week with the following cadence breaks:

On my honor,

I will do my best,

To do my duty,

To God and my country.

I don’t think I am alone in this. Most of us probably learned it that way. But now that I am on the other end of life, I see the misplaced pause in the cadence separating duty and God. I should have been saying:

On my honor,

I will do my best,

To do my Duty to God,

And my country.

It feels very different to say it that way, but it has the right emphasis. Or should I say that removing the oral pause between “duty” and “to God” adds the proper respect and priority.  This notwithstanding, I have a feeling that even if we taught all Scouts this respectful cadence, we would still have to teach them the deeper meaning of the phrase “duty to God.”

Interestingly, one of our past Hollywood heroes taught this precept exceptionally well.  Once when actor John Wayne attended a Scouting event, he was asked to comment on the Scout Oath and Scout Law. He said:

John Wayne

“Duty to God. Nice words. Trouble is, we learn them so young we sometimes don’t get all the understanding that goes with them. I take care of that in my family. As each boy reaches Scout age . . . I break it down for him with a few things I’ve picked up in the more than half a century since I learned it. With[God], life can be a beautiful experience. Without Him, you’re just biding time.”[9]




See “Bishop Gary E. Stevenson Boy Scouts of America National Annual Meeting Keynote Speech,” (2013, May 23), The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Newsroom.

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