The Honor Guard raised the flag to the top of the pole and then drew it down to half-mast in honor of the deceased.

Memorial Day is a day to observe and honor those who have died defending our country and our liberty. Many communities around the US hold small services in cemeteries where veterans are laid to rest and Beaver Dam cemetery is the resting place of many former veterans.

On May 29, residents and those who wished to pay tribute to the fallen gathered at the cemetery on top of the hill where Mesquite Honor Guard presented a wreath which was laid in place beneath the flag.

The Honor Guard raised the flag to the top of the pole and then drew it down to half-mast in honor of the deceased.

Mike Cashman gave the benediction and the bugler played taps. The ceremony was short and sweet but many of the family members stayed and visited the graves, others gathered and shared stories and each other’s company.

There wasn’t a time too long ago when the Beaver Dam Cemetery was a place that people didn’t want to visit; according to the residents, it was drab and unwelcoming.

Jimmy Candelas initiated the Beaver Dam Cemetery improvement projects that have turned the cemetery from a once deserted and depressing place to someplace that is warm and welcoming to visitors who can now sit and visit with their departed relatives. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

Jimmy Candelas, who initiated the cemetery project, said he was coming out of the post office one day and ran into a woman he knows who was crying. Candelas asked her what was wrong and she began telling him of the sad and disastrous condition of the Beaver Dam Cemetery.

Candelas went to look himself and was not happy with the sights he was seeing. He said it looked depressing, unkempt and unloved. He set out to change that.

Candelas and several area residents took charge and began making some much-needed improvements. They began with paining the flagpole and installing a light so the flag could be illuminated at night; without one they would have to raise and lower the flag daily.

Fences were mended and painted, gravel was laid, roads were semi-paved, seats and benches were put in place and Memorials honoring the five branches of the service were built and now stand proudly to the side of the flag.

Mesquite Honor Guard performs TAPS to conclude the Memorial Day Ceremony held at the Beaver Dam Cemetery on Monday, May 29. Behind him, a fellow veteran lowers his hat over his heart to give a silent salute to those served. Photo by Teri Nehrenz

The cemetery is now a welcoming place and Candelas, who waters and cares for the cemetery daily, says there isn’t a day that goes by when he doesn’t see a visitor come by and pay their respects to the family and friends who rest in eternal peace on top of the hill overlooking Beaver Dam.

To ready the cemetery for the Memorial Services a group of volunteers set about tidying up the grounds. Dennis Quesenberry spent Saturday, May 27 weeding, watering and tidying the grave sites. On Sunday Brandon Roberts, Steve Micra, Felix Mirca, Kyle Dahlberg, Larry Coleman and Peggy Owen finished the cleanup and placed flags. The larger flags were donated to the cemetery years ago by the Mesquite Veteran’s Center and have been put out for the holidays for several years; smaller flags are purchased and replaced as needed by Candelas.