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Tim Hussin, Deseret News
Jenifer Allen, 17, was among nearly 50 volunteers who walked through Brigham City Cemetery to place flags on graves of veterans for Memorial Day.

BRIGHAM CITY — Maj. Leonard Barton of Perry was in Kuwait on Memorial Day. He will be there until February as a Blackhawk pilot and intelligence officer with the Utah National Guard.

Meanwhile, at home, his wife, Shannon, had their six children and a foreign exchange student up and dressed bright and early Monday morning. Their father is serving his country, and so his children would do some service of their own.

The Barton family arrived at the Brigham City Cemetery at 6 a.m. They were among a group of at least 50 volunteers who gathered in the rain to mark with a flag the resting place of every veteran buried there.

Initially, Shannon Barton said her children, who range in age from 15 months to 22 years, wanted to know if this had to be done that early in the morning. But by the time the flags were placed, they were grateful for the experience.

"My daughter Cassie said we should do something like this every year," she said.

Somewhere between 900 and 1,000 veterans are known to be buried in the Brigham City Cemetery. Volunteers had walked the entire cemetery and placed flags at each headstone within 35 minutes.

The volunteers are just that — in every sense of the word. The Memorial Day program is coordinated by the VFW, the American Legion and the Disabled Veterans of America. But they almost never have to ask for help. People just show up.

Members of Sea Scouts Ship 50 have made it an annual tradition to help with flags in the early morning hours, but this year, the Brigham City Youth Council was on hand to help for their second year.

Adviser Linda Baugh said the teens enjoyed the experience so much last year, they asked if they could return.

"I thought that was pretty impressive, to have that many get up and be here at 6 in the morning on a holiday," Baugh said.

VFW Post Commander Norman Nelson said it is nice for veterans to have the support and to see people respond in respect of those who have gone before.

"The people need to know it is important to us because veterans are still defending the people of this country," he said.

The regularly scheduled program typically includes a memorial to fallen soldiers, musical performances by the Box Elder Symphonic Choir and a gun salute. However, this year, heavy rain and high winds cut the program short.

E-mail: amacavinta@desnews.com