About 300 people gathered at Veteran’s Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines at mid-day to honor the nation’s war dead, and those who have served or are serving in the military. Iowa Veterans Affairs administrator Patrick Palmersheim says the sacrifices of the men and women in the military — and their families — are the foundation of freedom. Palmersheim says the debt owed to America’s military is immeasurable, and he says Americans must never stop observing Memorial Day as a “healing practice” of paying tribute to fallen heroes. Governor Tom Vilsack has asked Iowans to observe a moment of silence in honor of those who have served in the military, and those who have died during their service to country. Vilsack says great societies recognize the importance of spending a moment in honor of those who served bravely and nobly. With this weekend’s dedication of a national memorial to World War II veterans, Vilsack singled out that so-called “greatest generation.” Vilsack says that generation came back from a terrible war and made the decision to build a strong and powerful country that would stand for peace and democracy throughout the world. Vilsack says they were first in war, and as a newspaper columnist has suggested, World War II veterans were first in peace. Iowa was the first state in the country to commit money for the World War II memorial in Washington. Vilsack says that one-hundred-thousand dollar committment spurred other states to send money as well. Congressman Leonard Boswell, a decorated Vietnam veteran, used his part of his time at the microphone to talk about faith, which he said was very important to him when he was in Vietnam. Boswell says it occured to him many times that he didn’t want to be taken as a prisoner of war, nor did he want to die in a fiery helicopter crash. Boswell says his faith saw him through, as did the faith of his wife and family that he would come home. For a benediction at today’s memorial service, a retired Army chaplain read the names of the 14 Iowans who have died serving in iraq.
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