There was a serious side to Family Fun Days in Belle Plaine this past weekend. Belle Plaine native Dana Knapp erected a pseudo-cemetery on a field of lush green grass, with one white cross for every American soldier who’s died in Iraq. She did it to honor the dead — and the loved ones they left behind.
“There is no word for when you lose your children because there is no way to describe that hurt,” Knapp says. Knapp has five grandchildren in the military. Knapp made the crosses with sticks that are normally used to stir paint, then coated the crosses in white before planting them in the ground. Knapp says she thought of her grandchildren when she made every one of the markers.
Logan Baburek of Belle Plaine was among those who visited the cemetery.”My cousin is in the war,” Baburek says. “(The crosses made him) just think about how he’s doing there.” Army Captain Grant Montgomery, who will be returning to Iraq next year, took his wife and young daughter to the site.
Montgomery’s wife, Christina, says there’s a story behind each cross. “You feel the pride,” she says. “But you also feel a deep sadness for the loss of the individuals because you know they are husbands, brothers and sons.” To date, the official number of U.S. deaths in Iraq is 2,607. Thirty of those soldiers were from Iowa.