STE. GENEVIEVE – An hour before Sgt. Michael Beckerman’s body arrived home Saturday afternoon in Ste. Genevieve, veterans and others began lining Center Street with flags.
Bitter cold winds whipped the flags back and forth and penetrated wool coats of those who waited for the procession to arrive from the Cape Girardeau airport. Some took breaks in their cars to get warm. But as time grew closer to the arrival time, more people lined up along the street to show their respect.
“It’s only cold for us for a little while,” said Kim Grass, who came to show her appreciation. “He made the ultimate sacrifice.”
Terri Scott comes from a military family, and although she did not know Beckerman, she felt compelled to show her support.
“I never met the young man, but he’s in my heart like they all are,” Scott said.
Her son-in-law was deployed to Kuwait about 45 minutes before Scott hoisted a flag in Beckerman’s honor.
Beckerman, 25, died Dec. 31 in Afghanistan of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.
“He was stationed in Kandahar with my brother, Brian, but they were in different units,” Justin Donovan said. Donovan came to pay respect for Beckerman and helped hand out flags.
Beckerman was married to Margaretta “Maggie” Gillis Beckerman and has a daughter, Brianna Beckerman.
His parents are Steven Beckerman of Sedgewickville and Lisa Hays McGregor of South Carolina. His grandparents and great grandmother live in Ste. Genevieve. Beckerman attended school in Ste. Genevieve.
“When he was a little bitty boy, my daughter and her husband played volleyball with his mom and dad,” said Lucille Bader. “He’s a very brave boy.”
Sue Gettinger said Beckerman was her friend’s nephew. She recalls him a “rambunctious little boy.”
The Stoll and Bader families placed a couple dozen flags along the street in honor of Beckerman. Norman Stoll, a Vietnam War veteran, was glad to see the turnout for the procession.
“More people are showing more respect now than when we came back from Vietnam,” he said. “More people are showing their appreciation. I think it’s really great.”
Beckerman joined the Army in September 2004. He arrived at Fort Campbell in January 2010 and was assigned to 2nd Brigade Support Troop Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division.
He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal; Army Good Conduct Medal; National Defense Service Medal; Iraqi Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; and the Combat Action Badge.
He was a member of the American Legion Post 150 and VFW Post 2210.
Fellow veterans stood at attention in uniform along the last stretch to the Basler Funeral Home Saturday afternoon. Law enforcement vehicles and motorcycle riders in the Patriot Guard accompanied the white hearse that carried Beckerman home.
Visitation was scheduled from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. Funeral services were held at 10 a.m. today at Basler Funeral Home, 685 Center Drive, St. Genevieve. Burial was in Crest Lawn Cemetery in Ste. Genevieve County.
Paula Barr is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 172 or at email@example.com.