Memorial Wall Dedicated On Veterans’ Day
“70 percent of American youth are disqualified from serving in the military. 97 percent of those who are qualified choose not to serve. Overall, 99 percent of Americans never serve. So, we are that one percent we are veterans.”
Retired First Sergeant Tim McCain set the tone for a tribute to veterans and the dedication of the Veterans Memorial Wall Friday afternoon. A large crowd of Veterans, family members and friends turned out over the noon hour on Friday to say “Thank You” to the veterans for their service to our country, and also to dedicate the latest addition to the Palo Alto County Veterans’ Memorial in Emmetsburg.
A noon meal sponsored by the Emmetsburg chapter of Rotary International attracted a good crowd to the Palo Alto County Election Center in Emmetsburg. Rotarian Tim McCain, a retired First Sergeant in the U.S. Army, offered a simple thought to serve as a theme of the day. “The nicest thing that you can say is ‘Thank you’ to a veteran. Veterans always had lots of things on their minds, like if someone was back home studying for a test, and then of course, the job at hand. But the thing they never heard enough was Thanks so Thank you again.”
McCain introduced Phil Stillman, Commander of VFW Post 2295 of Emmetsburg, who spoke briefly. “It’s a great day for the veterans here. I think it’s a nice day for them to stop and reflect on the service they gave to their country years ago. I think most veterans are proud of their service and glad they had the opportunity to serve their country in the way that did to help preserve the freedoms that we enjoy.”
Stillman continued, “Our veterans’ organizations are having a hard time keeping their membership numbers up as our World War II veterans are passing on and other veterans are getting older. It’s hard to maintain those numbers, but I guess that’s not too bad, we could wish we didn’t have to have veterans at all.”
In conclusion, Stillman thanked the Rotary Club for its efforts in developing the Memorial Wall project and also urged the public to go out of their way to greet the younger veterans returning from military service today. “These young people served not because they were drafted, but because they wanted to serve and chose to protect the freedoms that we have. I think we owe them a great deal of thanks and that hope that everyone will extend a welcome to them when they return home.”
Presenting the keynote address was Korean War Veteran and Iowa State Senate President Jack Kibbie of Emmetsburg.
“I want to thank all the veterans who are here and the VFW and Legion members,” Kibbie began, recalling how he and Bob Nolan boarded a bus in downtown Emmetsburg in October of 1951 on their way to be inducted into the Army. “I also want to thank the Rotarians for putting together this meal and the wall project, and making this day possible.”
Kibbie continued. “Veterans Day is an opportunity for all Americans to celebrate our freedom. We all want to thank all veterans and their families for all their sacrifices. We build monuments to have an everlasting memory to the sacrifices made by our veterans and to honor their service.”
Kibbie pointed out that one cannot find more memorials than in our nation’s capital, and noted that Iowans helped to raise money for the construction of the World War II memorial, including fundraising by veterans’ organizations. The Honor Flight program is another way to honor World War II veterans, and Iowa has had 1,200 veterans of that conflict participate in Honor Flights to the nation’s capital to visit the World War II memorial.
“Some of those veterans are here today,” Kibbie noted. “Iowa businesses have been prime sponsors, along with local fundraising efforts across the state for the Honor Flights.”
Kibbie also noted that the battleship USS Iowa, has been moved out of storage in northern California to be refurbished and will be moved to Los Angeles to become a tourist attraction. “I’m pleased that the Iowa Legislature provided $3 million this year as part of a $20 million public-private effort to restore and display this important part of our nation’s military history. As a result, Iowans will be able to tour this battleship without having to pay.”
“Many paid the ultimate price, and this day, especially honors their memory,” Kibbie said. “I’m proud to be a veteran and privileged to be here today to take part in the dedication of this memorial wall. Let’s all get involved in the funding to get all deceased Palo Alto County Veterans’ names engraved on this beautiful wall behind this memorial.”