In 1958, a junior at Immaculate Conception High School in Cherokee was asked by a nun at the school to read the Gettysburg Address during the Memorial Day observance at Oak Hill Cemetery.
That former ICHS student has come back year after year and will again read the Gettysburg Address on Monday at Oak Hill Cemetery, 50 years later.
"I've really enjoyed this. I'm honored to do it," Jim Staver said of his 50 years of reading the famous speech originally given by Abraham Lincoln at a battleground in Pennsylvania.
Staver said he will continue reading the Gettysburg Address on Memorial Day in future years if asked but he is willing to step aside after this year if some younger person wants to carry on this tradition.
Staver said there were a few years that the observance was cancelled because of weather, but he has participated every year that there was a Memorial Day observance in Cherokee.
Staver was medically disqualified from service during the Vietnam era. He said, "This is a way for me to pay tribute to those who served in the armed forces."
Participation in the Memorial Day observance has become a Staver family tradition. Jim Staver's brother Paul had read the poem "In Flanders Field" for about 30 years, before his recent death.
Paul Staver's daughter and son now continue what their father started. On Monday during the Oak Hill observance, Veronica (Staver) Huerta read "In Flanders Field," and Chad Staver read "In Flanders Field, An Answer."