Jewish War Veterans, local scouts to honor thousands buried in St. Louis


A small American flag is planted. A crisp salute follows. A few words of thanks are extended as a young scout stares at the name on the headstone. Then it’s on to the next gravesite.

This simple act has become an annual tradition in honor of the thousands of Jewish military veterans buried in St. Louis.

Known as “Memorial Day Good Turn,” the tradition continues Sunday, May 28, when the Jewish Committee on Scouting will assist Jewish War Veterans Post 644 by placing more than 8,500 American flags on the graves of veterans at eight local Jewish cemeteries.

“Across the nation, Jewish war veterans spend many hours prior to and on Memorial Day putting flags on veterans’ graves, because every person who served deserves to be remembered for their sacrifice,” said Col. Nelson L. Mellitz, USAF, Ret. and the national commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America.

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The JWV was founded in 1896 by a group of Civil War veterans to counter the myth that Jews did not serve our nation. It is our nation’s oldest veterans’ organization.

Jewish War Veterans Memorial Day ceremony

A special memorial program is also planned in the auditorium of the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum from 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. on May 28.

Helen Turner, director of education for the Holocaust museum will give the opening remarks followed by members of Jewish War Veterans Post 644. Maharat Rori Picker-Neiss, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council, will be the event’s keynote speaker.

The program will also include a flag-raising outside.

The event is sponsored by the Jewish War Veterans, the JCRC and the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum.