Veterans’ Day is Saturday but a ceremony is scheduled for this afternoon (Thursday) in Des Moines to honor those who’ve served — and those who are still in the military. Caesar Smith is co-director of the Fort Des Moines Museum and Educational Center. A 20-year Army veteran who served two tours in Vietnam, Smith says the service is timely with so many Iowans in uniform coming home from duty in Iraq.
Smith says “Because of the number of Marines and Navy and Army that have been returning right out at Fort Des Moines from all over the state of Iowa, we felt it was important that we acknowledge and let everyone in the city of Des Moines and this country know that we haven’t forgotten. It’s important that we constantly support and stand by our troops.” He says the ceremony is scheduled to start at 1:45 this afternoon.
Smith says a Marine color guard will post the flags and the Des Moines North High School band will play the National Anthem as a National Guardsman sings. There’ll be a prayer by a Navy chaplain, then speeches from two brigadier generals, followed by a wreath-laying at the monument honoring all four branches of the military. The ceremony will conclude with a fly-over by four fighter jets, F-16s from the nearby Iowa Air National Guard base.
Smith says they’ll fly right over the museum and monument just as Taps is finished being played with the wreath-laying. “Those planes come over and they roar and then they fly off into the distance. It’s quite a scene and an excellent way to finish up our memorial service.”
The Fort Des Moines Museum is a national historic site and it honors two groundbreaking military programs, the U.S. Army’s first office candidate class for African American men and the first Women’s Auxiliary Corps. For more information, surf to “www.fortdesmoines.org”.