As Memorial Day approaches, we salute all who wore the uniform and remember that freedom comes at a cost. Those who’ve sacrificed their lives are Iowa’s patriots. We can’t forget that their service was for us, whether they were family, friends or fellow citizens we never knew.
Iowa’s tradition of military service stretches back to the Civil War, in which we had the highest percentage of our population fighting. Iowans’ commitment to serve our country has remained strong. That’s why veterans make up a higher proportion of our state’s current population than they do for the nation as a whole.
This Memorial Day, there are many ways to pay tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Fly the flag, take a walk through the cemetery or visit a local monument. No matter where we are, we can all join in the National Moment of Remembrance observed across the country at 3 p.m. on May 28.
The Iowa Veterans Cemetery, a State owned-and-operated cemetery constructed with federal funds, is completing its 10th year of operation. On Memorial Day, the cemetery hosts a ceremony, raises an Avenue of Flags, and places 110 flags along a center ring road and leading to a Fallen Heroes Monument.
The cemetery is a special place to visit any time you want to learn more about Iowans’ sacrifices for our freedoms. Visitors regularly stop, groups tour the facilities, and many community ceremonies and volunteer efforts take place on the grounds. Maintained by the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, the Iowa Veterans Cemetery is located 10 miles west of Des Moines along I-80 near Van Meter.
World War I Honor Roll now open
On Memorial Day weekend, the State Historical Society will open a new traveling display that honors more than 4,000 Iowans who died a century ago during World War I.
The display features thousands of names and photos from Iowa families who lost loved ones during the war. The society sent out a call in 2017 to shore up the official records during the war’s 100th anniversary. The new exhibit is the result of that research – and a tribute to a generation of Iowans who sacrificed their lives to the cause of freedom.
The “World War I Honor Roll” is currently at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines. It will remain there for several months before traveling to other locations around the state. Follow along on Facebook or check the website calendar for future locations as they become available.
Ask Congress to maintain public school funding for military families
Congress is currently considering legislation to redirect public school funding to a voucher program for military-connected students (S. 2517/H.R. 5199). This would divert hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools, circumvent state and local oversight of education, and jeopardize accountability for academic achievement.
With 80 percent of military-connected students attending public schools, many organizations have voiced opposition to the legislation, including the National School Boards Association, the National Association of Federally Impacted Schools, the National Military Family Association, and the Military Officers Association of America.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on S. 2517 soon. You can speak up for the vast majority of military connected students by calling Senator Grassley and Senator Ernst at 833-480-1637. Ask them to oppose the bill.
Aspen Dental’s Day of Service on June 9
Hundreds of Aspen Dental offices are opening their doors exclusively to veterans during their annual Day of Service on Saturday, June 9. Known as the Healthy Mouth Movement, the service was launched in 2014 to provide free dental care to veterans in need. An estimated 211,540 veterans live in Iowa, and most don’t receive dental benefits through the Veterans Administration. Interested veterans should call 1-844-AspenHMM (1-844-277-3646) to see about scheduling an appointment at a participating Aspen Dental.
Museums offer free visits for military families
Just because school is letting out doesn’t mean learning has to stop. Museums nationwide take part in the Blue Star Museums program, which gives active-duty military families free admission throughout the summer. Find a Blue Star Museum to visit at www.arts.gov/national/blue-star-museums. Museums that want to participate can learn more and register for Blue Star status at https://apps.nea.gov/bluestarsignup/mainpage.aspx.