“The Answer,” Friend, Feb. 1997, 44
“Will you conduct the flag ceremony at the Blue and Gold Banquet, Kevin?” asked Sister Sandberg, the Cub Scout den leader.
Kevin chewed on his lower lip and lowered his gaze. “I—I d-d-don’t kn-know.”
Someone snickered. Kevin studied his shoelaces miserably, wishing that he could sink into the floor.
“That’s all right,” she said quickly. “You think about it and let me know at our next meeting.”
“Let’s start making our invitations,” Sister Sandberg said. She handed out construction paper, scissors, and markers.
When Kevin got home that evening, he told his parents about the den leader’s request. “I d-don’t think I c-c-can do it,” he said.
His parents exchanged concerned glances. “I think Sister Sandberg’s suggestion to think about it this week is a good one,” Father said at last. “We’ll be happy with whatever you choose.”
Kevin did little else but think about it. He wanted to lead the flag ceremony. He loved hearing the Pledge of Allegiance. He could even say it—if he was by himself and taking his time. But he couldn’t lead a big group of people in saying it, could he?
During that week, Kevin prayed about it every night. The answer he received was clear: You can do it.
At the next den meeting, he told Sister Sandberg that he wanted to lead the flag ceremony.
“Good!” she gave him a quick hug. “I’m proud of your decision, Kevin.”
Kevin spent every moment he could practicing. He also asked his speech therapist at school to help him. They went over the words slowly and carefully until he felt confident saying them. By the night of the Blue and Gold Banquet, Kevin figured he had rehearsed at least a zillion times. He smiled, thinking that he could probably say the Pledge of Allegiance backward. Now, if only I can say it without stuttering, he told himself. That’s all that matters.
He knelt by his bed and prayed once more. When he rose from his knees, a warm feeling settled in his heart. He could do it! He knew he could! Heavenly Father wouldn’t let him down. He was smiling as he ran down the stairs.
“Are you ready to go, M-Mom?” he asked. “I d-don’t want to b-be late.”
His mother looked up from where she was helping his little sister zip up her coat. “You look happy.”
“I am,” he said. “T-Tonight is going to be awesome!”
“Just remember to take your time,” Mother said while straightening the yellow kerchief around his neck. “It doesn’t matter if you have to start over.”
“I won’t have to,” Kevin predicted. “I’ve p-prayed about it, and I’m sure that everything’s g-going to be all right.”
Kevin’s father walked into the kitchen. He hugged Kevin. “Good luck, son. We love you.”
“I know.” Kevin returned the hug, then hugged his mother and sister.
He didn’t eat much of the dinner at the banquet, even though he usually liked hot dogs and potato salad. He kept thinking about his part in the program. The warm feeling he’d received after his prayer had stayed with him.
Then the dinner was over, and the Cubmaster introduced Kevin and sat down.
Kevin stood and walked slowly to the stand. He wiped his wet palms against his pants. “W-Will …” He looked out at the audience with horrified eyes. He took a deep breath and started again. “W-W-Will …”
He saw his mother clasp her hands tightly in her lap. He knew she was silently praying for him. He tried again, and again the words stuck to his lips, refusing to come out. Why did it have to happen now? He’d worked so hard, practiced so long! In his prayer, he’d had a strong feeling that everything would be all right. And now he was stuttering worse than ever!
Eric got up and started forward, followed by David and Hyrum. Soon all the Cub Scouts except those carrying the flag were standing beside Kevin.
Eric slipped his arm around Kevin’s shoulders. “It’s all right,” he whispered.
Kevin cleared his throat. “W-Will the audience p-please stand?” He paused while the color guard posted the colors. “P-Please repeat the Pledge of Allegiance.”
The audience started reciting the words. “I pledge allegiance to the flag …”
Kevin faltered once or twice, but his friends were there, encouraging him. When he took his seat, Sister Sandberg gave his shoulder a squeeze and smiled at him. He smiled back at her.
The rest of the evening passed in a blur. He’d done it! He’d stood before a group of people and led them in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Before climbing into bed that night, Kevin knelt beside it and folded his arms. His prayer had been answered—not in the way he’d prayed for, but in a very special way, and he was eager to thank Heavenly Father for helping him.