We remember: Images for Memorial Day
Memorial Day Observances, May 29-30, 2011
At 1 p.m. Sunday, 4,000 Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers will gather at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery to decorate each of the 183,000 graves with an American flag -- an annual remembrance of the generations of military who have so proudly served this nation.
The public is invited to observe this 62nd annual Memorial Day "Good Turn," held by the Gravois Trail District of the Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. The scouts will march in at 12:30 p.m., assembling at the main flagpole at the center of the cemetery for a brief ceremony before spending the next two hours placing the flags. The speaker will be John A. Glover, a retired Air Force colonel who serves as historian for the U.S. Army Maneuver Support Center at Fort Leonard Wood.
On Monday, the annual Memorial Day ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Parking will be available at the Metro bus stop in Sylvan Springs Park on Sheridan Road, with shuttles transporting visitors to the cemetery.
Established in 1826, Jefferson Barracks is one of the nation's oldest military sites and has served as a national cemetery since the Civil War.
Here are two other Memorial Day tributes worth noting:
* "Support Your Troops and Thank Your Veterans," a benefit for the USO: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday at the Francis Park Playground in St. Louis Hills. To download a flyer, click here.
* The Alton Memorial Parade: 10 a.m. Monday. This annual parade dates back to 1868 and is the oldest consecutive running Memorial Day parade in the nation. The parade begins at the intersection of College and Washington avenues. For more information, visit the Alton visitors website.
Read the Beacon's earlier story below:
On the grounds of Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery. For Memorial Day 2008 by Bill Smith
Just to be here on a good spring day, with the sunlit grave markers the white of bleached stone against the thick emerald grass, is to feel them all around you:
Country boys, their fingers still clenched tight on their rifles.
City boys, their eyes still staring out across the field to some hill that only they can see.
Handsome, square-jawed boys and skinny fellows with noses bent like hooks, their precious letters still tied up in kite string and buried somewhere deep inside their canvas bags.
And the women, too, right alongside, holding onto their wicker baskets and their nurse kits and their little sleeping babies - women who went and ones who stayed behind.
If you listen, you might even hear their voices on the gentle wind.
"I wonder how the old dog is getting' on?"
"Fried chicken! Yes, sir. And tomatoes right from the garden. Big as softballs, they were. You coulda made a whole meal outa one."
"She was the sweetest thing I ever saw. I'm tellin' the truth, I am. Prettier'n any movie star."
For so many, theirs was a long and decent life, 70 years, 80, 90. Children and grandchildren and long winter evenings to sit and remember Inchon, Belleau Wood, Hue, Midway . . .
But for some - and you can see their stones grouped together on the slopes and little valleys of the cemetery -- theirs was too short a time on this fine earth. They were just barely in their 30s when they breathed their last, or even their 20s. Sometimes they never made it to even 20.
Just to stand here on a good spring day, to walk the rows and touch the names, to smell the fresh grocery-bought flowers . . . to see the little medals laid so carefully atop the tombstone, to see a bottle of Missouri wine, a final gift for an old friend, half-hidden in a spot of shade . . .
It is to know them, at least a little.
It is to see them for who they were, and who they are, stuff of flesh and blood and, so often, courage and honor.
A time when the taste of new life is everywhere. A time to say that we remember them. At least for a while. At least for today.