Veterans share love of scroll sawing at Dubuque Veteran's Freedom Center

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Generations came together today at the Veteran's Freedom Center in Dubuque when first and fourth graders from Marshall Elementary visited the center to learn about them on this Veterans Day.

Al Rowell showing Marshall students how to use a scroll saw on Friday, November 10, 2017.

The kids learned about the symbols that make up our flag, as well as how to properly fold one.

There was one activity that drew kids in the most: scroll sawing.

It's a saw with a thread-like blade that allows a person to cut intricate designs out of wood.

Al Rowell says it's one of his favorite activities.

"You can make a little mistake and it don't show. And that's what's the fun part," he said.

Rowell suffers from PTSD, arthritis and Parkinson's.

He says scroll sawing is his escape.

He said, "we use these saws, when you're on that saw that's all you are, is concentrating on what you're doing. And it takes the pain away and everything else."

What he enjoys maybe even more than sawing is sharing it with kids.

"I don't do real well out in public. I don't go to big crowds or anything else. If I can sit and work with kids or other veterans I have a great time," he said.

The kids enjoy it, too.

"I think it was awesome," Marshall first grader Lucy Houtakker said.

Rowell and the other veterans don't sell anything they make. They give it to charity, families of fallen soldiers, or use them for prizes when they host events.

They're just thankful for a project that trims away at their memories of war.

"You can go to war and they'll teach you how to do everything but come back and be a human being. They don't teach you how to do that," Rowell said.

But they never forget why they made the sacrifices they did.

"You keep us reminded of why we did what we did," Rowell said to the kids.