With Independence Day just ahead, a new permanent multimedia exhibit honoring “the bravest of the brave” will be unveiled in the rotunda of the Iowa state capitol building this week. Jeff Morgan, spokesman for the State Historical Society of Iowa, says the kiosk will recognize Iowa soldiers who have won the nation’s highest military honor.
Morgan says it chronicles the stories and lives of 108 people with Iowa ties whose bravery and courage in action against hostile forces earned them the Medal of Honor from the Congress and the president. He says the kiosk uses state-of-the-art technology to show visitors a host of information about these heroes, a project that’s been several years in the making.
State Senator Dennis Black of Newton has helped in doing much of the research, collecting all of their stories and pictures that can be accessed via touchscreen in the exhibit, called “Iowa’s Medal of Honor Heroes.” Since it was authorized by President Lincoln, the medal has been awarded to only 35-hundred soldiers, more than half of them posthumously. 108 Iowans have won it, serving in ten major conflicts. Morgan says one of those heroes will be at the unveiling of the exhibit on Friday at 4 P.M. — a Sioux City native, retired Marine Colonel George “Bud” Day.
Morgan says Day was 17 years old when he enlisted and saw three years of active duty in the Pacific in World War Two, he came home and got a law degree, then was called to serve in Korea and trained as a fighter pilot, and went on to duty in Vietnam where he commanded a squadron and was shot down in 1967 and endured five years in a prison camp in North Vietnam. He returned to the U.S. and was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Ford in 1976.
As part of Friday’s ceremony, the society will also unveil the Ninth Iowa Infantry Civil War Battle Flag for display in the rotunda. It’s believed the flag carries the blood of Sergeant James Elson, of Shellsburg, who received the Medal of Honor for his acts of courage at the Battle of Vicksburg during the Civil War.