CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Despite the rain, nearly 50 veterans and supporters attended a dedication memorial to the veterans of Linn County at the Linn County Community Services Building on Sunday afternoon.
Just a week before major flooding hit Cedar Rapids in 2008, the Linn County Veterans Affairs office put together a plan for the memorial, but due to weather and the office being forced to relocate, plans were put on hold. Veterans Affair director Don Tyne believes the memorial serves as not only a remembrance of our veterans, but the community pulling together after the flood. "We are truly blessed with this community," Tyne said. "It's amazing what these people can do."
The memorial reads: "Dedicated to the Veterans of Linn County in honor of their unselfish service to the country, state, and nation," and is placed outside of the Linn County Community Services building near a bench to reflect, a man made pond and flags of various service branches.
Former Army National Guard helicopter pilot Yon Abel said Veteran's Day is a great way to remember those who served as well as give an opportunity to those to speak out about their experiences in the armed forces. "It can help spark a conversation," Abel said. "Veterans that have served don't always share their experiences with just anyone." Abel was deployed to Iraq twice, and will be speaking in Alburnett on Monday as an attempt to get the younger generation more involved and provide first hand knowledge about what veterans have done for the United States.
Guest speaker Brigadier General Steven Feldmann served as the Deputy Commanding General for Mobilization and Reserve Affairs and served in Kuwait, Haiti, Afghanistan and other locations, and retired as a lieutenant from the Cedar Rapids Police Department in 2010. Feldmann said the war on terror cannot be won on battlefields alone. "We can't kill ourselves over this," Feldmann said. "We need to change the way enemies perceive us, find common ground." Feldmann mentioned the difficulties veterans face when they come back to the United States after service.
"Nineteen percent of the homeless are veterans," Feldmann said. "If you're an employer; hire them. Our country needs to take care of those who served this country."
Former Marine Ryan Stancel believes this country may seem divided over a variety of topics, especially after the 2012 Presidential Election, but he believes we're all Americans and can stand together as a united nation when it comes to armed forces.
Cliff Haverkamp, 91, of Orange City said Veteran's Day reminds him of the buddies he has lost, those that have passed on and those still serving today and fighting for the United States. Haverkamp was a navigator of a Boeing B-17 bomber before being shot down over Germany in 1943 where he spent nearly two years as a prisoner of war.
"Just because we were in the service doesn't mean we are any different," Haverkamp said, "We did what had to be done."