If one good turn deserves another, what do 5,000 good turns deserve?
In what has become a 62-year tradition on Memorial Day weekend for the Boy Scouts of America, more than 5,000 Scouts decorated more than 138,000 graves Sunday at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in South County.
The Gravois Trails District of the Boy Scouts of America organizes the annual ceremony, which brings together 200 Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, Venture Crews and Girl Scout Troops from South County and the surrounding area. Gravois Trails encompasses the Mehlville, Lindbergh, Affton, Hancock Place and parts of the Rockwood School Districts in South County and the public and private schools that sponsor Scouting groups.
The Memorial Day Good Turn is meant to honor the men and women of the military who have lost their lives in America's wars by visiting their graves and planting a flag on Memorial Day.
"They served our country, it's the least we could possibly do for them," said Caleb Heiney, the senior patrol leader for Troop 824 of Mehlville.
The coordination of the event took on a military scope as well, with the thousands of Scouts and their leaders mobilizing on the adjacent National Guard grounds, and marching to Circle Drive in the cemetery for a short speech by retired Air Force Col. John A. Glover and a flag-raising ceremony. Glover is the historian for the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center at Fort Leonard Wood, MO.
Father and son Tom and Steve Zeuner have been involved in the tradition for more than 20 years.
"We want to pay respect to our military," Tom Zeuner said. "I've seen a lot of Scouts come back from the military to this weekend, it means a lot to them."
Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, which averages 21 burials a day, has interred veterans from every U.S. conflict, including the American Revolution. There are eight Congressional Medal of honor recipients buried there as well.