Veterans Memorial Building Opens After Flood Renovations

By Jill Kasparie, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – After about six years of waiting, it's finally time to reopen the Veterans Memorial Building.

"It's been a very hard project to complete and recover from the flood," said Veterans Memorial Commission Executive Director Mike Jager.

In 2008, record floodwaters took over the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Cedar Rapids.

It's been a long journey for the building since the flood. The renovation cost about $18.5 million. The building used to house city hall, but now it has several new functions for the community.

The Veterans Memorial Building became a place of speeches and celebration Tuesday afternoon, and everywhere you look you could see shining examples of service to our country.

On this exciting April day in 2014, however, it's all too easy for many in the crowd to think about the past.

"I was a tank commander, went over to Vietnam in '66 and came back in '67," said Veterans Memorial Commission Member James Bruner.

"I went to Vietnam with the Marine Corps in 1968, and I got wounded in May of that year," said Veteran Robert Griffith.

With his cane in hand, Robert Griffith made the trip to see the re-opening. The building comes complete with space for veterans to hold meetings and to gather just to visit.

"It means a lot for veterans to just get together and talk to one another, it helps them get over some of the problems. This PTSD stuff is really, it's worse than what people think it is," Griffith said.

"What the memorial building has served a purpose for decades was to bring the veterans into the community and to bring the community in connection with the veterans and that's what we want to continue to do going forward," Jager said.

So, as the American flag came down at the end of a day of celebration, many know it's time to remember the past but look toward the future as they make new memories in a new space at the heart of the city.

The Veterans Memorial Commission said the building will be open to the public during normal office hours. Many different veterans' organizations already have office space inside. The commission is also planning plenty of events for the community to come and enjoy the building.
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