Glenwood Springs man follows his father’s footsteps
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – 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 just as his father, Dan H. LeVan, had done for so many years before.His hands, wet and cold, grasped a handful of those miniature flags tightly so as not to let his father’s passion for Memorial Day slip away and be forgotten.”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 passed away last fall. The two are well-known symbols 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.”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.”It’s a day he’d been anticipating, and dreading. But eventually, the Friday before Memorial Day came, and LeVan was at Rosebud, placing flags in the wet ground as the rain fell gently.
Vicki Price, Bill Price’s widow, stepped precisely around the markers at Rosebud, the cold air generating a sniffle from time to time.”I hate colds,” she said as she looked up from the clipboard with the layout of the cemetery indicating each veteran’s grave.”Walsh, King and Caldwell,” Price yelled out to LeVan, Jerald Olp and another American Legion member. LeVan and Price were continuing the task that Bill and Dan Sr. did for so many years.”She’s my flagging buddy,” LeVan said.The three scattered through the headstones, checking each one for the names Price called out.”Here’s King,” LeVan responded. A flag was placed within seconds near the stone.”Walsh is over here,” Olp signals to the others. Again, a flag was placed within seconds.And the rain continued as they made their way through the section of the cemetery, leaving no stone unchecked.”Today is difficult,” Price said. “But it’s something I had to do because it’s something that we did together for about 26 years.”For Price and LeVan there’s nothing else to do on the Friday before Memorial day but place flags and continue the tradition. The local Rotary Club and Cub Scout Troop No. 225 help out each year, according to Dan H. LeVan’s widow, Pat. She, too, was at Rosebud on Friday as it rained.”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. “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.”We’ll remember, but I do that a lot,” Price said as she looks toward the ground. “He’s still here. He’s always going to be here.”The rain continued to gently fall.
Edward B. Oberto, 1895-1942; J. Fred Bowen, 1890-1932; Thomas McBreen, 1901-1968 – these are just names upon stones at Rosebud for some people. But not for LeVan’s father. For Dan H. LeVan, each stone was a veteran, a veteran who deserves to be recognized for his duty each year on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.The importance wasn’t misplaced by his son.”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 will run things as his father has in the past. There will be a new podium dedicated in Bill Price and Dan H. LeVan’s honor. There have already been two benches placed at Rosebud in recognition of the two veterans who passed within a week of one another. Another bench will later be placed at the Garfield County Courthouse, near the Veteran’s 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 be able 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.”
LeVan felt his father’s presence Friday at Rosebud in the rain that fell upon his shoulders.”It’s him giving everyone a little kick in the rear so we’ll get this done,” LeVan joked.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. The smell of rain upon the fresh-cut grass created the aroma of spring. LeVan smiled.”My dad is out here in spirit,” LeVan said with a chuckle. “Now that we’re done, the sun’s going to shine.”Contact John Gardner: email@example.com
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs, Colorado CO
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