The Memorial Day Service at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery near Van Meter has become an annual tradition in Dallas County that is growing each year. This year it was said that they started out with 500 programs to hand out to visitors at the ceremony and ran out before the service began.
People gathered on the sunny day at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery on Monday to remember those who have fallen protecting the freedoms of the United States. There were musical numbers by the "Young Patriots," who are fourth graders from Iowa Christian Academy and speeches from Col. Robert King, executive director of Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, Van Meter Mayor Allan Adams, Rep. David Young and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Adams showed appreciation for the sunny weather, saying that they frequently don’t have good weather for Memorial Day, but also mentioned that Memorial Day is a solemn event.
"It really reminds us that freedom is not free," said Adams. "And without the sacrifices that all of those brave men and women have made, our state, our country and the world would have a completely different look and may not necessarily be for the better."
Adams, who is a veteran, urged people to remember those sacrifices as people went through their day on Monday and said that every day is a great day to honor veterans.
Young, during his speech, said that people should not only honor the veterans who die in battle, but also the "veterans of today" and those who continue to serve on Memorial Day.
"They continue to do so much for us here at home and it’s critical that we look out for them each and every day," said Young. "There are injuries, there are battle scars, the physical and there are the invisible moods of war no one can see until it’s too late some times."
Reynolds said that Memorial Day is a reminder that "the freedoms we cherish are inseparably connected to the notion of sacrifice," during her speech to the crowd.
"It is the sacrifice our men and women of the armed forces have born over the course of history that really has enabled us to remain a self-governing people," said Reynolds. "The fundamental concept of self governance and liberty has proven to be the greatest governmental experiment this world has ever seen. However, these exceptional blessings also carry with it the obligation to ensure its continued existence."
Later in the ceremony, Reynolds and Young joined together to lay the ceremonial wreath in front of the audience.
Instead of trying to find someone to deliver the Memorial Day Message, King decided he would do it himself since he is used to doing such things. During his speech he talked about his interactions with people while he is assisting with the funeral services for the men and women who are buried there.
"I hear the stories of husbands and wives, and sons and daughters that are so very proud of their loved ones and what they gave to our country," said King. "Reality kind of starts to settle in when you carry the remains of one of your people you served with a long time ago to their final resting place."
The service ended with the Sounding of Taps by Gloria Doyle on the bugle and the retiring of the colors by the Cadets of the Red Bull Battalion.