VFW Salutes All Veterans
Veterans and Auxiliary members of Post #2296, Palo Alto County, welcomed over 250 guests at a fundraiser and Silent Auction last Friday, Aug. 5. The event raised over $5,000 to benefit the Post.
The program opened by recognizing veterans from all military branches. Chuck Roberts, member of the Post, called on veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War, Iraqi and Afghanistan to be recognized. He also congratulated new members of the military.
A special presentation was made by Dick Zwart, member of Kiwanis of Emmetsburg. He presented a check for $1,000 to VFW member Ned Munn. Zwart said Kiwanis is appreciative of the VFW for allowing the organization to serve breakfasts at the Post Home.
Guest speaker for the evening was Col. Robert King, retired, Executive Director of Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs.
In his introduction, VFW member Roger Picray stated Col. King served 36 years in the Iowa National Guard in operations, training and leadership assignments. He was named by Gov. Terry Branstad to be the Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs in May 2013. This office is responsible for disseminating information to veterans regarding facilities, benefits and services available to them, maintaining military service records of Iowa veterans, assisting veterans who encounter complications. He is also director of the Iowa Veterans Cemetery located in West Des Moines.
“Col. King has been a good friend and advocate for veterans for many years and has been involved in many veteran service organization projects,” said Picray.
Congratulating VFW members on their fund-raiser, King noted, “This evening was obviously well attended. That always makes you feel good.”
King said he always wanted to be a soldier and he got to be one. His six year enlistment in the Iowa National Guard became a 36 year career.
“You and I live in a wonderful country. There’s no place like what we call home, the United States of America. Veterans, like you here tonight, have made it what it is today,” said King.
“Veterans and families, I’ve come here tonight to say thank you for your service. Thanks for what you’ve done. Thanks for all you continue to do for this community. God bless you.”
He related incidents of veterans who made a special point to say they appreciate being “thanked” for their service in Vietnam after all these years.
King reminded everyone that Monday of the Iowa State Fair is Veteran’s Day.
“This will be the 27th year I have organized the Veteran’s Day Parade. It will be another opportunity to thank you for your service. It’s all about you and saying thank you,” he said.
Col. King reminded veterans and guests that the United States is in the midst of a 50-year commemoration of the Vietnam War. Fifty years after a mission that stated in 1962, the United states is honoring three and a half million Americans who served in the Southeast Asian Theater.
“It’s a tribute to those laid to rest, and we affirm the dedication of showing a generation of veterans the respect and support of a grateful nation,” said King. “It’s the story of patriots who braved the line of fire, who cast themselves in harm’s way to save a friend, who fought hour after hour, day after day, night after night, to preserve the liberty all of us hold here. They upheld the highest traditions of the United States of America.
“58,301 Vietnam veteran soldiers laid down their lives in service to our nation in that land far, far away. Now and forever more, their names are etched on that lasting memorial in our nation’s capital. All of us have names in our minds,” said King.
Homecoming for these veterans was a tragedy.
“As I go to ceremonies, the ones leading the charge to make sure it doesn’t happen again are the Vietnam veterans,” said King. “We can’t go back, can’t change what happened, we can only do it different and better in the future. Vietnam veterans show their colors in many, many positive ways in the community and you are much appreciated for it.”
King continued, “You left a proud legacy for your service and we thank you with deepest gratitude so now it’s time to pay tribute to our comrades, including Gaylen and Gary from this community, the missing, the wounded, the millions who served and millions more who waited for them at home.”
Col. King concluded his remarks, citing General Douglas MacArthur’s 1962 speech at West Point. “Duty, honor, country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.”
“Duty, Honor, Country. That’s why we serve,” Col. King stated.