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20th U.S. President Remembered As Embodiment of 'American Dream'
by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal - December 6, 2014

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The life of President James A. Garfield was honored during a wreath laying ceremony at his monument and final resting site at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio on November 15, 2014.

Army Reserve Brig. Gen. R.A. Bassford, 88th Regional Support Command deputy commanding general, officiated the ceremony and presented a wreath on behalf of President Barack Obama.

Attendees of the ceremony included members of the local community and Scouts, history enthusiasts, and descendents of Garfield who was born 183 years ago.

Statue of President James A. Garfield located inside his monument located at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio on Nov. 15, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal)
Statue of President James A. Garfield located inside his monument located at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland, Ohio on Nov. 15, 2014. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal)

James Abraham Garfield had only been installed as the 20th President of the United States for 100 days when he was mortally wounded from two gun-shots fired into his back.

Though this act denied the promise of Garfield's role as a great President, it does not define the life and achievements of a great man, said Bassford.

“It is my honor today to pay tribute to President James Abraham Garfield, a man whose life and achievements show us how hard work leads to success – and show us how in America – anything is possible,” said Bassford. “The story of James Abraham Garfield illustrates the American Dream.”

Bassford outlined the humble beginnings of Garfield who was born into poverty and never knew his father whom had died 18 months after his birth. The necessities were hard to come by requiring hard work at an early age and leaving no time for anything else – like going school.

“In most places in the world, you would die as you were born,” said Bassford. “In poverty, unremembered, insignificant, stuck with what life had given you. But not in America, and only in America could things be different.

Blessed with talent, ambition and the willingness to work, Garfield wanted to make something of himself, and because he had been born in America – through hard work and dedication – his desire to succeed could become reality.”

Bassford continued of how Garfield traded hard and often menial work for an education. This dedication led him into positions such as teacher, preacher, congressman, a general in the Union Army, a college president, a successful lawyer, renowned orator and finally president of the United States of America.

“There has really been only one nation in history where such a thing could happen – where a man could rise from lowest of the low to the highest office in the land,” said Bassford. “It is our great fortune to live in that nation.”

“We are tremendously fortunate to live here in America, where we have that special and wonderful thing called the American Dream,” said Bassford. “The belief that with hard work and dedication, any person, no matter how humble their origins - can reach any goal.”

“James Garfield illustrates the American Dream,” concluded Bassford. “His story is one for the ages, one that all of us should treasure and remember.”

By U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Corey Beal
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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