Scouts honor war veterans at Los Angeles National Cemetery

LOS ANGELES >> The drill at Los Angeles National Cemetery was simple: approach a grave, recite the name of its veteran, plant a U.S. flag firmly before the stone, taking care that it stands straight and true. Pause. And salute.

The exercise was repeated 88,887 times on Saturday by thousands of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from across Los Angeles. Their mission: to honor American warriors for Memorial Day.

“Pvt. Hosie Johnson,” said Cub Scout Benji Bendezu, 8, of Pack 91 in West Los Angeles, stooped before the marble gravestone of a World War II veteran from Tennessee. “Thank you for your service.”

With a crisp, two-finger salute, he moved on to the next grave. Then to the next. In just over an hour, and army of Scouts had turned the national graveyard off Wilshire Boulevard into a garden of flags flying beneath a solemn sky.

The Los Angeles National Flag Placement, which began more than four decades ago, drew more than 5,000 Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and their families for what may have been the largest Memorial Day weekend turnout ever, officials said.

The flag ceremony and placement, organized by the Boy Scouts’ Western Los Angeles County Council of Van Nuys, marked the largest Scouting event in the state.

And one of the largest Scout-sponsored flag tributes outside the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

“When I started doing this 15 years ago, there was no honorable way to plant the flags. It was a madhouse,” said Keith Smith, chairman of the…

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