Memorial service highlights project to mark previously unmarked veterans' graves

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Dozens of veterans and their families from the Linn County area gathered in Cedar Rapids on Sunday to commemorate the ways they’ve served their country.

Cedar Memorial Park held a memorial service for area veterans at the cemetery’s chapel on Nov. 10, 2019. (MARY GREEN/KCRG)

That afternoon, Cedar Memorial Park held a memorial service for area veterans at the cemetery’s chapel.

The ceremony also highlighted the Veterans Memorialization Project, which raises money to purchase permanent headstones or markers at unmarked veterans’ graves in Linn County.

The project started in 2016 in honor of Leonard Kelly, who died from injuries sustained during the Normandy invasion and whose grave at Cedar Memorial was unmarked for decades.

Linn County Veterans Affairs Director Donald Tyne said veterans’ graves can go unmarked either because they don’t have any surviving family or because their family can’t afford the headstone.

“We don’t want them forgotten,” Tyne said. “They signed on to serve our country. They should be a part of our history, and they should all have a marked grave so when it comes to Veterans Day and Memorial Day, they get a flag on their grave. They aren’t walked over.”

The project is a partnership between the Marine Corps League, the Linn County Veterans Affairs Office and Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery.

So far, they’ve raised enough money to pay for headstones for 10 veterans and are now working to honor others.