Graveyards throughout Ocean County gleam with red, white and blue this weekend - a token to honor the men and women who lived here and carried America's colors into battle after battle.

Ocean County Freeholders Joe Vicari (l) and Gerry Little (r) bedeck the grave of Civil War veteran Lawrence Berrien of Toms River

It's a Memorial Day tradition that dates back to the 1920s. "And it's a fitting way to remember those who have given so much for their nation," says County Freeholder Gerry Little.

By Memorial Day, scores of volunteers organized by County Veterans' Services Director John Dorrity will have placed the Stars and Stripes on more than 15,000 gravesites.

In historic Riverside Cemetery in Toms River, Little and fellow Freeholder Joe Vicari planted miniature flags on the resting place of Lawrence Berrien. He was not yet out of his teens when he enlisted to fight for the Union in the War Between the States.

"He was born n 1845 and he died in 1933," says Little. "He served in Company A of the Fifth New York Infantry Regiment which fought at Bull Run, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville...three of the bloodiest engagements of the Civil War."

Little also points out that 13 Ocean County lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan underscore the reason we stop to honor our veterans, living and dead, this weekend. And the Boston Marathon tragedy illustrates that the war against terror is far from over.

The annual Toms River Memorial Day Parade steps off at 9 AM Monday, downtown at Main and Washington Streets.