Iowa veterans gathered in Des Moines today for the annual state celebration of Veterans Day. The former members of the military gathered in the building erected in their honor — Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Des Moines — for the annual program of music and remembrance.
Earlham native Larry Spencer — a Vietnam navy veteran who spent seven years as a prisoner of war — gave the keynote speech. Spencer says war is an experience that involves huge numbers of people, but has an individual basis for every person that serves. Spencer says soldiers pay an individual price for their service.
He says there are some sayings that involve the military service that sometimes people take for granted. He says, “Freedom isn’t free. It’s paid for by the lives and sacrifices of the citizens of our country. And today, as in every other day, at veterans hospitals across our country, that price of freedom is on display.” And he says Americans should never forget the price that’s paid for that freedom.
He says there’s another saying that the people that most appreciate the price of freedom are those who’ve lost it. He says, “We’ve all been touched by the sacrifices of veterans and those that we’ve shared. It’s the price we pay for our life, it’s a good life. But it has a cost and today we remember those among us, and those before us who’ve served.”
Spencer was a fighter pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam in 1966. Spencer now lives in West Des Moines.