About 30 members of Boy Scout troop 340 of Seminole, which started the local tradition in 1968, volunteered including Eagle Scout Richard Dunleavy, foreground, who has been participating since he was a Cub scout. “It’s just amazing that it keeps going even when boys achieve Eagle Scout and move on,” said Merle Thompson, widow of Harry E. Thomson who initiated the tradition while serving as the troop’s longtime leader. He died in 2006 and is buried at Bay Pines. “He was well liked by all of the boys. He either made you laugh or you learned something. He didn’t just talk.”
formal ceremony commemorating Memorial Day was held at Bay Pines National Cemetery on Monday, May 30 at 10 a.m., with a keynote speaker, musical performances including taps and a firing salute.
The cemetery is open every day from dawn to dusk and is located on the grounds of the C.W. Bill Young Veteran’s Administration Medical Center, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd. N., St. Petersburg.
Over 36,000 gravestones were marked with American flags in about two hours starting at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 28 by about 200 volunteers including Boy Scouts from dozens of units around the greater Tampa Bay area.
From left, 8-year-old twins Ryan and Aiden Swenson of Land O’ Lakes Boy Scout troop 323 are new to scouting and enjoyed their first flag marking ceremony in preparation for Memorial Day. Both boys just completed Wolf status and are moving up to Bear. “I like helping the people who have served in war,” said Aiden. “They have protected us and our rights.” His brother Ryan liked participating because it’s a “caring event.”