A flag is draped over one state legislator’s desk today in honor of his military service. Representative Raymond Zirkelbach of Monticello is on active duty in Mississippi, preparing to go to Iraq in March. Zirkelbach’s pregnant wife and his mother stood by this (Monday) morning as two House leaders draped the American flag over Zirkelbach’s empty desk and put his picture on top of it.
Emily Zirkelbach says it’s a “big honor” for her husband to have the “symbol of America’s freedom” on his desk today. Zirkelbach says he was home over Christmas and left last Monday. The couple spoke by phone Saturday, and Emily says her husband is homesick and wants to be a part of what he was elected to do, but is “happy to serve his country, too.”
The Zirkelbach’s first child is due at the end of April. “He won’t be able to be at home for the birth, but we have a lot of support,” she says. “Everyone’s being very kind and helpful. I appreciate it all.” Her mother-in-law, Karen Zirkelbach, is excited because it’s her first grandchild. “We’re just so excited about everything and we want to keep Ray posted,” Karen Zirkelbach says. The couple visited the doctor while Zirkelbach was on leave last month, saw an ultrasound and found out the sex of their baby, although they’re not sharing that information with Radio Iowa’s statewide audience.
Karen Zirkelbach says she’s been approached by many legislators who express their support for the family. “It’s just an honor to be here, to meet all the people (who) support Ray,” Karen Zirkelbach says. Raymond Zirkelbach was first elected to the Iowa House in 2004 and will run for re-election, although he won’t be in Iowa to wage the campaign. Last year, state Senator Chuck Larson, Junior, of Cedar Rapids was absent because he was on active duty in Iraq.