ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, NJ – Students at MAST, the Marine Academy of Science and Technology at Sandy Hook, and members and leaders of Boy Scout and cub troops from Rumson joined with American Legion Post 141 members and friends to replace disintegrated American flags on the graves of veterans at Bayview Cemetery Saturday.
“We are so appreciative of the cadets and scouts who turn out every year to take on this duty,” said Post Commander Peter Doyle. “ It is a large undertaking, considering this historic cemetery has graves dating back to the Revolutionary War, and at least one recognition of a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient,” he said. “Seeing these young patriots get up early on a Saturday morning to not only remove the faded flags but replace them with bright red, white and blue is proof that patriotism is still very much alive.
CDR Tracie Smith-Yeoman, Senior Naval Science Instructor at MAST, said “we have only been doing this for perhaps four years, but we look forward to doing it for many more years in the future. The cadets volunteer because they are always looking for community service opportunities, and they feel very strongly about honoring our veterans,” the retired Naval Commander said. “Once a cadet does it the first time, he or she will do it again and again, because it is such a wonderful experience.” She added it seems strange to say the cadets enjoy the activity of putting flags on graves, “but it is such a beautiful cemetery with veterans' graves dating back to the Revolutionary war. The cadets get very interested in reading the names and the dates and the wars these men and women served in. I think they also like to learn about how the government takes care of veterans with the grave markers that veterans are entitled to receive.” Smith-Yeoman said that some cadets will serve in the military themselves, and she feels they like to take care of the veterans that came before them “in the hopes that someday some high school students will care for their graves in the same manner.”
Assistant Scoutmaster James Martin of Troop 201 and Cubmaster of Pack 11, was present with Scout Graeme Martin and Cub Asher Martin for the annual flag placements and indicated his scouts, who have been part of the tradition for several years, similar to the high school cadets, enjoy being able to do something for the community and the veterans, and do read the names of the deceased and the wars in which they have served. The scouts also take all the damaged and faded flags, remove them from their wooden sticks, and dispose of them in a ritualistic flag burning ceremony.