Ask the Chairman - Single Commemorative Sash
Q. What would you say to Arrowmen who are disappointed from the recent announcement that there will be a single version of the commemorative red sash, rather than honor specific, and that it may only be worn at the 2015 National Order of the Arrow Conference? Additionally, many members are not attending the conference due to space constraints, and will be able to purchase one but will never be able to wear it. It may be helpful to provide lodge leaders with more information as to why this decision has changed from the original announcement of three separate sashes that could be worn during “a designated period of time” in order to properly disseminate this information to their lodge’s Arrowmen.
A. Thank you for inquiring about this matter. As an overarching point, let me assure you that these changes (along with all national policy consideration and reconsideration over time) were undertaken with great care, deliberation and input from our key constituents. In this case, we solicited and received extensive input from lodge advisers and our national youth leadership which helped the national OA committee refine the approach to the commemorative red sash.
As you highlighted, we did shift from a three-level sash to a single, unified version with centennial anniversary-specific markings. This was primarily driven by the symbolic nature of having a unifying sash across the entire brotherhood present at the conference, a perspective strongly advocated by our youth leadership. As I hope you can appreciate, as we build these programs and especially the conference thematic portion, we keep a keen eye on the development of parallel items. In this case in particular the theme for the 2015 NOAC was in development at the same time we were thinking about the change to a unified sash version. The final theme, It Starts With Us was driven by similar discussions about inclusiveness of all brothers. Additionally, this was an opportunity to make a red sash that was even more special, given that other red sashes (and black ones) have been issued from time to time.
We also extended the opportunity to obtain a sash, not only to actual conference participants, but also to "would be" adult advisers who gave up their NOAC slot for a youth. This followed the unprecedented surge in registration that we experienced, well exceeding anyone's expectations (including specific estimates we had formed through early polling of lodges on their goals). This was to express our gratitude for those adults who selflessly stepped aside to benefit youth and thereby passed up the opportunity to attend the conference.
On the time allowed to wear the sash, there was clarification, not a change. As you indicated, we always intended to allow wear only for a "designated period of time" -- that designated period is NOAC. I apologize if there was unofficial speculation to the contrary among those at conclaves, etc. This policy is to balance the unique experience we want to provide with conference guests and staff, our expression of gratitude to those adult advisers who could not attend but could still purchase a memento and the need to honor the rest off our membership through uniform standards (e.g., the official white sashes). You are correct that adult advisers who could not attend NOAC but purchased a memento will not be authorized to wear this sash.
Lastly, let me do my best to assure you that neither convenience/ease nor cost avoidance was a relevant consideration to the original or updated approach to the commemorative red sash. Trust me, the easiest course of action would have been to avoid issuing the sash altogether.
All my best,
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