ST. PETERS, Mo. – Every Memorial Day, Boy Scouts from around the St. Louis region come together to plant flags at Jefferson Barracks National Cementery. That tradition was canceled this year due to the novel coronavirus.
Former US Marine Corps Sergeant Gerald Raulston was disappointed when he heard the news and wanted to do something to honor his fallen brothers and sisters. He created his own front yard memorial to pay his respects.
All of the decorations were hand made by Raulston. He used styrofoam, tape, and yardsticks to make the “stones” and wrote R.I.P on them with a black permanent marker. American flags were placed by all 18 headstones.
“That’s my way of honoring those who came and gave everything ahead of us, and if they didn’t do that we wouldn’t be here,” Raulston said.
Raulston’s homemade American flag consisted of 1,750 L.E.D. lights. Raulston used copper rods to create the frame and used Cool Whip lids to cut each individual star.
The entire display gained a lot of attention from his neighbors, and he plans to make this a new tradition he will honor each year.
Sam DiCarlo served in the U.S. Navy and is a close from of Raulston.
“[Gerald] had the best idea. First, he put up the flag. Then he started putting up the stones and everything like that. I came out and looked at it and it was beautiful,” said DiCarlo. “Actually, when I first saw it gave me the shakes and little tears kind of ran down my cheek. After that I just blanked my mind because I thought of all the guys over there that didn’t come back.”
As for Jefferson Barracks, Army veteran Daniel Luna-Fuller put together a volunteer team to distribute flags at the cemetery in place of the Boy Scouts.