The crowd attending the service was a mixture of men and women, young and old, patriotic civilians who placed their hands over their hearts and former military who proudly stood (as best some could) and saluted.
Some of the 150 to 200 people stood, leaned against a post or building and still others sat in lawn chairs or on blankets spread out on Ocoee Street while the guest speaker gave his remarks.
Retired Army Col. Dr. Richard Pace, coordinator of Vocational Chaplaincy Ministries, Church of God Chaplains Commission, reminded the crowd the United States of America was “… born in a passion to exercise our God-given freedom. Our forefathers were driven with conviction to have the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their hearts.
“They believed all were created by God to have the freedom to pursue their dreams, free from the obstacle of a tyrannical government. Those who signed the Declaration of Independence knew freedom would be achieved through a high price. Yet the value of anything is measured by the price people are willing to pay for it. As Americans, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness holds the highest national value. Every time our freedom is threatened, as a nation we reassess the value of freedom. And, every generation who has appraised our freedom [has] concluded that freedom is still worth the high price we have paid and continue to pay. Today we gather here to remember those who have validated the value of our freedom with their lives.
“Across our nation, there are monuments and plaques to remember those who have stepped up to the task of freedom’s preservation. As you stand here today, along with millions of Americans in communities across our country, you are the living memory to those who have given their lives that we might have the freedom to gather here today. We honor brave men and women, of whom most would not describe themselves in lofty terms of heroism, but simply say freedom is worth the sacrifice of my life, if necessary … and since the birth of our great nation many times it has been necessary. Memorial monuments can state the facts of history, but only the living memory of the human heart can express memorial emotions.
“So today as living memorials, we remember those who have died defending our freedom with pride, with pain, and with profound appreciation.
“With great pride we remember the courage of our first citizen soldiers, who though outgunned and undermanned, fought with tenacity a superior British force at Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill. We honor the valor of those who fought at Gettysburg and Antietam, where farms and forests were transformed into sacred land. We boldly romanticize the warriors who charged up San Juan Hill, held the Alamo, and stormed the Halls of Montezuma.
“We rightfully boast of our Doughboy grandfathers who fearlessly fought through the Argonne Forest and held fast at the Rock of the Marne. We will never forget the soldiers of our greatest generation who stormed the beaches of Normandy, refused defeat in the Battle of the Bulge, and overpowered the enemy at Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima and Midway Island. Among our neighbors are courageous heroes who can give you firsthand accounts of brave Americans who fought at Inchon and the Chosin Reservoir.
“Though our nation was slow to understand and appreciate the gallantry the great Americans who fought in the La Drang Valley and on Hamburger Hill, we are growing with pride in the heroics of our Vietnam vets and proudly acknowledge the courageous and selfless actions of men like Specialist Leslie H. Sabo Jr. who just this month, 42 years after his sacrifice, was awarded posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“We are living memorials not only because our hearts swell with pride, but also because our hearts melt with pain when the cost of freedom is close to home. To view the heroics etched in monuments on a historic battlefield is an enriching experience. However, it is too painful to think of monuments on the fields of battle where the blood of America’s courageous young men and women has not yet dried. We know that no medal or letter or folded flag can fill the hole left in a mother’s heart from the loss of a son or daughter on a foreign battlefield. We stand here today to remember with her.
“Some here today stand as a living memory to the buddy who took the seat in the helicopter that you were going to take and subsequently took the bullet that you would have taken, though neither of you knew it would [happen]. Our spirits remember with pride the service of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers who bravely served in the great wars of history. Our hearts remember with grief the sacrifice of our sons and daughters and close-as-blood-related buddies whose price of freedom is still fresh.
“When we remember those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom, we can be both filled with pride and overwhelmed with pain, but we must always express our profound appreciation. We should never glamorize war, but we should always honor those who come back from war draped in our nation’s flag. Since the American Revolution, over 1.3 million brave men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country. If you can place a value on the earthly life of an eternal soul created in the image of God, then you can place a value on freedom.
“We must never take the cost of freedom for granted. As Ronald Reagan stated, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.’ Freedom is a gift from God, but it is wrapped in the selfless service of our fellow Americans.
“In his proclamation in 1868 to set aside this day as Memorial Day, General Logan instructed there to be thoughts to ‘… cherish tenderly the memories of our heroic dead who made their breast a barricade between our country and its foes.’
“Today we are living memorials to these great Americans. May God bless you, our military personnel and their families, and the United States of America.”
Also participating in the program were the Rev. Robert Seaton, pastor, First Lutheran Church, who gave the invocation and benediction as Chattanooga Composite Squadron 192, Civil Air Patrol, USAF Auxiliary posted and retired the colors of the United States of America.
As Aldersgate Garden Club members placed fresh-cut flowers in front of the base of the lectern, Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said, “It reminds us that Memorial Day was set to be in the month of May because flowers are in bloom and they stand as a constant reminder that the memory of those gone before us, who gave all for their country, are always in bloom in our hearts.”
Civil Air Patrol Cadets also read the names of Bradley County wartime deceased veterans who are listed on memorials on the Courthouse Plaza. Cadet Matthew Blach read the list from World War I; Cadet Dakota Thompson, World War II; Cadet Samuel Lockman read the names from the Korean, Vietnam and Iraq wars.
Last Roll Call
A poignant part of the annual Memorial Day ceremony was when Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland read the last roll call to the sound of a continuous drum roll by Cleveland High School seniors Drew Cannon and Sean Moran.
The last roll call is in remembrance of the 192 veterans who have died since Memorial Day 2011.
“Let us each remember their lives with reverence and gratitude as I call each name,” the mayor said as he read the names:
George Albritton, J. Don Amison, Herman L. Andersen, Carroll Anderson, George W. Anderson, Jerry R. Arp, Hubert Lee Ashley, Sherlin Bill Austin;
William W. Ball, Emmett H. Banks, Ray H. Barber, Joel L. Bishop, Cecil J. Blalock, Sr.
Ray Blankenship, James R. Boles, Bobby D. Brandon, Scott A. Brown, John S. Brush Jr., Willis Bryan, L.D. Burgess, Robert Burgette;
Delbert Campbell, Max Carroll, Garland W. Cartwright, George Carver, William T. Cassidy, James G. Cate Jr., Paul L. Cate Jr., Charles W. Chambers Sr., Charles W. Chapman, Alvin F. Clabo, Ralph Clark, John P. Cloud, H. Freddie Clowers, George W. Clowers, Gary L. Coffey, Milton Collet, Jack J. Cooley, C.F. Buddy Cope Jr., Larry D. Crotzer, Howard Culberson;
Carroll J. Davis, John W. Davis, L.C. Davis, James K. Delay, James W. Dixon, C.L. Dixon, Thomas E. Dobbs, James Dodson Sr., John Dupree, Michael Reid Durham, Michael E. Dyer Sr.;
Larry B. Edmonson, Richard Lamar Ellis, Roger Ellis;
William F. Farmer, Alvin L. Foster, Dee Frisbee;
William R. Gadd Sr., Bill D. Gatlin, Warren Gee, Jerry Gentry, James S. Goldston, Ernest Goodwin, Jim Gordon, Bobbie Sue Grape, Kenneth Griffin, C.L. Griffith, Artis Guthrie, Henry F. Guzman;
David Hamilton, Billy Hancock, John A. Harden, Ray Hawkins, James E. Hawkins, John G. Hawkins, Elmer G. Henderson, Calvin D. Herron, Earl Hickey, Charles E. Hilburn, Edward C. Hill, Forrest B. Hill Jr., D.K. Holden, Jerald M. Howard, Roy L. Humphrey, Kenneth Hunt, David Hutchison
Raymond Janis Jr., Robert Roy Johnson, John Johnson, James E. Johnson, Jerry L. Johnson, James E. Johnson, John Paul Johnson;
Donald M. Keith, William M. Kerr, Jimmy Lee Kersey, Richard W. Kinder, Fritz Kissell
Edgar Knight, Daniel W. Knoll;
W. Jasper Lacy, Roy F. Laduke, Jimmy L. Lane, Clifford Lawson, L. C. Lay, Jack L. Leamon, Larry K. Ledford, James Liner, Ray A. Livingston, Dave J. Long, Allen D. Lord, David E. Love, Wallace Lovelace Sr.;
Carl Malmquist, Robert A. Malone, Samuel S. Malone, Michael J. Marsh Sr., Rick Martinez, David A. McClellon, William T. McClure Sr., Roland McDaniel, Bobby J. McGill, Martin McKenzie, Edward F. McKinney Jr., Wayne P. Miessau, Robert Millard, Harry L. Million Jr., Oliver D. Mills, Jack Mitchell, Joseph F. Morefield, Cecil Morgan, Edwin E. Mowrer, Bobbie Gene Murray;
James R. Nelson;
James Ray Owenby;
Jerry W. Partin, Paul J. Paulli Jr., James L. Pendergrass, Terry Ray Phillips, Joe Pirkle, David Porter, Lawrence Porterfield, Edward Potokar, Walter E. Presley;
Fay Arthur Ratlief, Edgar Roark, Gary Robbins, Charles E. Rockholt Sr., William Rohall, L. Thomas Rollins, Charles E. Rose, Roy L. Runyon;
Casimir Sadowski, James Sampson, Doyle W. Schmerber, Albert D. Scoggins, Joseph F. Sharp, Bobby Shubert, Robert A. Slaughter, Charles Gene Sliger, Jacob C. Smith, Willard R. Smith, Arthur Snow, Arthur H. Sprayberry, Anthony Stafford, Edward E. Stevens, William H. Still Jr., James D. Suits;
Nevada R. Talkington, Paul E. Tatum, James H. Terry, David H. Thompson, Arthur Thompson Jr., William H. Trinkner, Billy W. Tucker;
James H. Varnell, Roy P. Vaughan;
Floyd Wade Sr., Ode Walden, Hoyt L. Watson, Wesley Welborn, Robert A. Wells, Bud West, Ralph Wiggins Jr., Joseph Wilson, Henry L. Womack, Lester Wright, Wilbur D. Wright;
Bradley Eric Zanoska, Harry Zeilenga and Robert Zvolerin.