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'Moving' memorial held for veterans

'Moving' memorial held for veterans

May 30th, 2018 by Michelle Brooks in Local News
<p>Democrat photo/Michelle Brooks</p><p>The annual Memorial Day observances May 28 began at the gravesite of World War II U.S. Navy veteran Cletus Kueffer.</p>

A somber memorial continued May 28 at the cemeteries east of California as the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and Auxiliary No. 4345 and the California Masonic Lodge recognized veterans lost in the past year, as well as those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

The VFW and auxiliary led nearly 50 people in a tribute at the grave site of World War II U.S. Navy veteran Cletus Kueffer, who died in April at age 96.

Kueffer was a bridge painter before entering military service aboard the USS Lexington in September 1942. He worked another 23 years with the Missouri Department of Transportation after he returned in December 1945. He owned Kueffer Structural Painting with his brother for a time and also was a farmer.

His daughter Amy Huhmann was joined by about a dozen other family members for the Memorial Day service. And more community members attended the ceremony in Kueffer's honor.

"It was very moving," Huhmann said of the brief commemoration. "He would be proud."

A life-long California resident, Kueffer was dedicated to his community, especially through the Masons and the VFW, she said.

The VFW and auxiliary laid wreaths and flowers and set a flag in front of Kueffer's headstone with thoughtful and solemn presentation.

"This is in honor of their service; some have given their lives," VFW Auxiliary president Lind Jensen said. "Even if they are still alive, they've given."

Most of those who attended the first ceremony also relocated to the Mason's presentation area for a talk by David Bledsoe and the bell-ringing ceremony in honor of the 29 veterans who passed away since last Memorial Day.

"We are their legacy," Bledsoe said of all the veterans who have gone on.

Whether volunteered or "volun-told," Bledsoe said they were heroes for answering their country's call.

The local area lost soldiers in service — 34 in World War I, 46 in World War II, seven in Korea, three in Vietnam and one to-date in the War on Terror.

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them," Bledsoe shared from the words of President John F. Kennedy.