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Greater St. Louis Area Council: Boy Scouts of America

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Gravois Trail > Posts > Memorial Day Good Turn Scheduled For Sunday, May 26
May 22
Memorial Day Good Turn Scheduled For Sunday, May 26

Recognizing Fallen Soldiers Has Long Tradition in Gravois Trail District

ST. LOUIS, Mo. –
For more than five decades, nearly 4,000 scouts have gathered at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, located along the banks of the Mississippi River, over Memorial Day weekend to place an American flag at the grave of every deceased soldier within the cemetery’s fences. The tradition, now entering its 64th year in the Gravois Trail District, is one of the longest running Memorial Day events within the Boy Scouts of America today. The 2013 edition is scheduled to take place on Sunday, May 26.

The first Memorial Day Good Turn in the Greater St. Louis Area Council (GSLAC) took place in 1950 and was completed by scouts in what was then called the Grant District, but today is referred to as the Gravois Trail District. Since the mid-1990’s, the event has grown to include all units within GSLAC and the manpower is certainly needed. Every year on the last Sunday of May, area scouts take roughly two hours to cover the 330 acres in Jefferson Barracks and place flags on nearly 190,000 graves.

To honor the Barracks’ fallen soldiers each year, a procession of Boy Scouts march from the National Guard base into Jefferson Barracks Cemetery where a ceremony then takes place at the main flag pole on the grounds. Scouts who earned Eagle Scout during the past year serve as color guard and scout buglers play “Taps.” From there a guest speaker addresses the crowd before Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venture Scouts and Girl Scouts disperse to put out flags, all of which are furnished by Jefferson Barracks. This year’s keynote speaker will be Lieutenant Brian T. Leicht of the U.S. Marine Corps. Leicht, a graduate of Oakville Senior High School, earned his Eagle Scout rank in 2007.

Such a large scale event wouldn’t be possible without a plan in place. St. Louis native Bill Frein is the man behind the preparations and will enter his 13th year running the good turn in 2013. Although he took over the reins in 2000, Frein has been involved with Memorial Day Good Turn since the 1970’s during his time as a Scoutmaster. The Eagle Scout and Silver Beaver Award recipient relies on a committee of 18 people to help carry out the day’s tasks and ensure the event runs smoothly.


“I just feel that it’s a way that I can help recognize those who have given time to our country to serve in the armed forces and the military, and I am a veteran myself,” said Frein, who was drafted into the army from 1956-58.

Opened in 1826 as the first permanent U.S. Army base west of the Mississippi River, Jefferson Barracks was at one time the largest military base in the U.S. Its military operations stopped in 1946. In 1866, JB was established as a national cemetery and today it is one of 131 national cemeteries under the Department of Veterans Affairs. It is also one of the oldest interment sites within the VA’s system and has buried veterans from every U.S. war, including the American Revolution.

Once known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day was established after the Civil War to honor the Confederate and Union soldiers who died. Today, the event commemorates all of those who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. It wasn’t until 1967 that a Federal law declared Memorial Day as the official name. 


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