Today is a holiday to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice for the country.
Audio: Radio Iowa’s Dar Danielson reports :49.
Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs executive director, Robert King, was in Washington, D.C. recently and says it hit him as the plane took off and he saw the various memorials down below the impact of veterans on the country.
“You think about the veterans that you’ve known that served in those, the ones who didn’t come home. I’ve got good friends that served whose names are on the wall,” King says. He says there aren’t many people who don’t know someone who died and their name is on the Vietnam Memorial Wall.
King says you begin to understand Iowa’s contribution to the effort when you walk through the flag-lined roads of the cemeteries in the state. King visits the cemetery in Adel, where he sees the markers of those from his hometown.
“Those guys who ran the gas station, ran the insurance company, ran the grocery story, my high school principal. In those days you knew nothing about them but what they did at in the town then,” King says. “But you go to the cemetery and you see World War Two and Korea, some of them World War One — it puts a whole new perspective on it,” King says.
King is retired from the Iowa National Guard, and says Iowans have always answered the call to serve. “Iowa is really a great patriotic state and if you go back through history, Iowans have lined up and signed up and marched off to war. And of course a lot of them didn’t come back home, ” King says. “Memorial Day is a day to honor those who served — regardless of the service and when they served — but it is certainly a day to commemorate those who have lost their lives and particularly those who lost their lives in combat.”
King sums up things this way. “Veterans made the country, veterans served us very well and Memorial Day is another opportunity to thank them for what they have done,” King says. King says there’s always been an awareness of veterans, and the awareness has been heightened more by the efforts of the Department of Defense to mark the anniversaries related to World War Two, the Korean War and Vietnam War.
Photo courtesy of John Parrish, Family Service Counselor, Resthaven Cemetery Des Moines.