mast leonardo cemeteryPHOTO: Left to right: Eehit Mukherjee, Joseph Villanueva, Jonathan Meehan, Brandon Badrick, William Hurley, Walter McBride, Michael Christoph, Olivia Bonforte, Mary Catherine Harvey, (the next three are in the back row) Cali Niederer, Elizabeth Ellis, Sarah Vladu, (the next three are in the front row) Paige Lane, Kylie McNamara, Karris Robertson.  photo courtesy of MAST

LEONARDO – Members of American Legion Posts 141 of Atlantic Highlands continued their half century-long pre-Memorial Day tradition with the help of volunteers from MAST the Marine Academy of Science and Technology Saturday when they replaced approximately 700 American flags on the graves of veterans buried in Bayview Cemetery.

Post Commander Peter Doyle said MAST students have been participating in the 49-year old tradition for the past three years and were joined this year by members of the LEOS, the Lions Club young members, as well as some students from Rumson Fair Haven High and Forestdale and Rumson elementary schools.

“It has been a tradition with the American Legion throughout the nation to honor those who have served, as well as to demonstrate the importance of service to country to the next generation,” Doyle said, in explaining why he seeks volunteerism from local students. “They regard it as an honor, and it makes them keenly aware of the sacrifices of so many in generations before them who have kept this a nation in which they can take great pride. It was rewarding to see that this year we had more volunteers than ever to help in taking away American flags that are no longer able to be properly displayed and to replace them with fresh and brightly colored American flags. ”

“We hope to continue this custom for many years in the future,” added Cdr. Tracie Smith-Yeoman, Senior Naval Instructor at MAST, who accompanied the students on the service. “The cadets are honored to be able to celebrate and pay respect to the lives of these brave men and women, and they like the history of the cemetery. They were shocked to see the grave of a soldier from the Confederate States of America, but it was very sad to see the stones marking the graves of babies and young people. On the other hand, they were pleased to see the outstanding upkeep and maintenance in this historic burial place and took notice of the respect that that effort demonstrates from the people who keep it in such a serene, restful atmosphere.”

The cemetery was established in 1889 by residents of the Navesink, Leonardville and Chapel Hill area who formed the Bay View Land Improvement Company and acquired 52 acres of land that is now the final resting place of veterans of every war since the Civil War. The entrance to the cemetery also has a memorial to Medal of Honor recipient Fred. S. Hay, also known as Frederick H. Schwabe, who served as an Army sergeant during the Indian Wars of 1850. James Morris, a Revolutionary War soldier captured by the British in 1777 at Navesink Highlands while serving with the New Jersey Continentals, is also honored with a memorial in the cemetery. The Confederate soldier buried at Bayview apparently survived the Civil War and settled in this area after the war.