An outdoor Veterans Day service was held an hour after sunrise at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery where more than 6000 Iowa veterans are buried.
“Be with us on these hallowed grounds where many of our veterans have gathered and many of nation’s heroes rest,” Iowa National Guard chaplain Lucas Murphy said as he delivered an opening prayer. “…To honor our veterans, may each American find reasons to love, not hate and the strength to build, not destroy. Renew our sense of unity through times of testing and difficulty.”
Governor Kim Reynolds noted November 11 was renamed Veterans Day in 1954, to honor the generations of Americans who’ve served in the military over more than two centuries.
“Our state’s veterans occupy a distinguished place in this history (with) their honorable service, as well as that of their families, and our Gold Star families who made the ultimate sacrifice,” she said.
Captain Kevin Waldron, the deputy director of public affairs for the Iowa National Guard, reminded the crowd that the beginning of the liberation of the western front in World War II started 77 years ago.
“A piece of history that includes the 34th Infantry Division, a National Guard division filled with soldiers mainly from Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas,” he said. “In the spring of 1944, the Red Bulls — as the division is known today — fought a series of decisive battles across Italy. Despite hard fighting and challenging terrain, the Red Bulls managed to break out and eventually led them all the way to Rome, where they helped liberate this ancient city and set the conditions for the surrender of Germany.”
Waldron, who was the keynote speaker at the service, did a tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2018. He gave a brief summary of a key battle Iowa National Guard soldiers fought a decade ago.
“In May, 2011, 41 members of the First Battalion, 133rd Infantry of the Iowa National Guard fought in Operation Titanium Tiger, later known as the Battle of Do Ab. Soldiers and airmen fought for nearly 12 hours working to regain control of Do Ah District Center in Nuristan province, Afghanistan,” he said. “Thanks to the heroic efforts of several Iowans, zero casualties were sustained.”
Waldron asked for a moment of silence to honor the 2,061 American soldiers who died during the 20-year war in Afghanistan. As flags at the Veterans Cemetery flapped in the brisk wind, taps was played to conclude today’s service. More than 700 Iowa veterans from wars dating back to the middle of the last century were buried at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in 2020.