Jim Beckel speaking

During his keynote speech at Cleveland’s Memorial Day service on Monday, Jim Beckel presented an array of anecdotes about the day dedicated to honoring the U.S. military personnel who died in the defense of their country:

How former President Ronald Reagan recalled that most were not old and wise when they died but rather boys who gave up their current and future selves, how taps originated, how the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence had to endure tremendous hardships during a war that they themselves brought about…all in the name of freedom.

He spoke about the overwhelming loss of lives during the battle of Gettysburg four score and seven years later, the 1918 Meuse-Argonne offensive of the Great War and the World War II battle of Okinawa in 1945.

But Beckel said overall, the theme of his speech was paying value.

“Over one million died for our freedom. These servicemen and women paid value.”

Through a poem, Beckel said that we can honor those who gave up their lives for their country by paying value back to others: by seeking to understand how people feel, by being slow to anger and quick to show appreciation and by always treating people with respect.

Also at the Cleveland Memorial Day program, which was held at the park on the north west edge of town, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church pastor Liz Rossing offered the invocation and benediction.

Legion member Andy Queen led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Legion member Dennis Hiller, Auxiliary Post member Anne Hiller and Sons of the American Legion member Greg Davis placed the memorial wreaths.

Cleveland Cub Scout Pack 15 posted and retired the colors. Narrated by Queen, members of Cleveland Boy Scout Troop 68 performed the flag folding ceremony.

The Legion Color Guard and Firing Squad saluted the dead.

Directed by Erik Hermanson, members of school bands provided prelude music: “Armed Forces on Parade” and “Star Spangled Banner.”

The trumpet section played taps.

Beckel, a Cleveland native, was drafted in 1969 to serve in Viet Nam but soon after was one of 40,000 troops whose orders were rescinded, and he spent the rest of his time in the service serving as a military policeman in Fort Hood, Texas.

A band made up of junior high and high school students provided traditional music.

Another view of the band.

Cub scouts Jordan Schummer and Jordyn Gehrke brought in the colors.

Scouts Geoffrey Gehrke, Devyn Connelly, Jackson Bowen and Dylan Zimmerman performed the flag folding ceremony.

The Legion firing squad.

Supported by director Erik Hermanson on the trombone, Jackson Bowen, Aiden Domras and Caleb Connor teamed up to perform taps.