Memorial Day tradition endures in Glenwood
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The rain fell softly upon Dan E. LeVan’s American Legion hat Friday afternoon. The day was gloomy, and the cold wind and rain didn’t make the day any easier for him.
“It’s a little more difficult this year,” LeVan said as he placed miniature American flags upon veterans’ gravesites at Rosebud Cemetery in Glenwood Springs, just as his father, Dan H. LeVan, had done for so many years before.
“We had two individuals who were active [American Legion] members that we lost this last year,” LeVan said.
LeVan spoke of his father and of Bill Price, both of whom died last fall. The two were well known in the community for their patriotism and veteran pride.
“This ceremony was everything to him,” LeVan said. “Starting in March or April, after he’d return from Arizona, he’d start lining up the Memorial Day ceremony.”
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Now the ceremony means everything to Dan Jr., who carried on the tradition of organizing and helping place nearly 500 flags upon the veterans’ graves in recognition of their service to the country.
“It’s been really touching,” LeVan said, “last week getting the ceremony set up and now being out here doing the flags.”
LeVan called out veteran’s names as Vicki Price, Bill Price’s widow, helped place flags on each grave with Dan H. LeVan’s widow, Pat.
For the trio, there’s nothing else to do on the Friday before Memorial Day but to continue the tradition.
The local Rotary Club and Cub Scout Troop No. 225 help by placing flags each year, Pat LeVan said.
“It’s a little difficult,” she admitted, looking into the distance where a flag now marks her husband’s grave.
“I usually didn’t come because he was so active and they had so much help,” Pat said. “But I came today and brought some flowers and put them on his grave.”
It’s evident that both Bill’s and Dan’s presence was missed by all who carried flags that day.
“Between Bill and Dan … it’s lonely,” said Olp, who’s the commander for the American Legion Post 83.
But they all were comfortable with the familiarity of the task.
“It’s part of life,” Price said Friday. “And life goes on. This is what Bill would want, and come Monday, we’ll be here shooting off our rifles just like we’ve always done.”
And they will remember the reason they carry on the tradition.
“I definitely want to carry on with the amount of attention that he gave the ceremony so the community as a whole is able to see the importance of this three-day weekend,” LeVan said. “We all love this weekend, but there is a reason for it.”
That reason, in LeVan’s view, is the meaning behind placing the flags at the graves. It’s just recognizing their service. It’s the recognition that his father worked to preserve every year, with every flag he placed.
“I’ve personally never lost any friends on the field,” LeVan said. “But I know that others have, and that’s why it’s important to give these guys recognition.”
During Monday’s Memorial Day ceremony at Rosebud Cemetery, LeVan planned to run things as his father has in the past.
There would be a new podium dedicated in Bill Price and Dan H. LeVan’s honor. Two benches were placed at Rosebud in recognition of the two veterans who died within a week of one another. Another bench later will be placed at the Garfield County Courthouse, near the Veterans memorial, in Dan H. LeVan’s name.
“This will be a different type of memorial service than Dan Sr. headed,” Pat said. “But in his absence will be his son, and he’s prepared a really beautiful program.”
For LeVan, it’s an honor to to pick up where his dad left off.
“I’m glad I’m able to do it,” he said. “It’s in honor of those two, as well as the others that have been out here helping out over the years.”
As the last flags were placed in the ground and some of the volunteers began to leave, sunshine broke through the clouds and made the raindrops flicker.
“My dad is out here in spirit,” LeVan said with a chuckle. “Now that we’re done, the sun’s going to shine.”
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