News: President James A. Garfield honored in annual wreath laying ceremony
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal
CLEVELAND - The life of former President James A. Garfield was honored in a wreath laying ceremony at his place of internment at the Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Nov 16.
Army Reserve Brig. Gen. Alton G. Berry, 88th Regional Support Command deputy commanding general, officiated the ceremony on behalf of President Barack Obama.
Berry gave tribute to the former commander-in-chief to the crowd which was composed of community members, history enthusiasts and descendents of Garfield who was born 182 years ago.
“James A. Garfield was perhaps one of the most interesting and intelligent me to ever assume the office of president,” said Berry. “His rise from poverty to the heights of power is an astonishing American story.”
Berry continued, Garfield is remembered for being an outstanding student, teacher, debater and orator as well as a tremendous Soldier and leader. The base for Garfield’s rise from an unknown academic to general, and then President was merit and conviction.
“What made President Garfield so special was not something born out of luck. His was a life rich in principle, accomplishment, and selfless service to his nation. Yes, he was the right man at the right time - but, he was also an extremely hard worker and devoted to his family and the nation as a whole,” said Berry.
… He was a principled man who stood strongly behind his beliefs. He was an ardent supporter of increasing the role of African-Americans in both greater society and in positions of power within the government. He was a strong foe of the spoils system and sought to reform the entire civil service system.
… Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about Garfield is that he came to that high office reluctantly. This was not a position he had campaigned for and only reluctantly accepted,” said Berry.
Upon Garfield's passing, the nation suffered tremendous grief, said Berry.
“We have forgotten that and popular history tends to ignore it,” said Berry. “But this was a good man, well loved by the people. His example stands before all of us in terms of who we should inspire to be. President James A. Garfield was truly a hero and a great American.”