My hometown does something pretty special for Memorial Day every year. In addition to putting out the usual rows of flags along the lanes, they also put out smaller flags next to all the veterans’ graves. But on top of that, they put up white crosses with the names of local veterans and the wars in which they served.
I spent some time out in the cemetery a few years ago photographing some of the crosses. I knew we’d sent many people to war over the years, but I was surprised to find out just how far back some of the veterans had served. For instance, we have a veteran from the War of 1812. Iowa wasn’t even a state in 1812!
We have a veteran of the Civil War, too, and of course there are plenty of veterans from both World Wars, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Someday, there will be other crosses from the current conflict to join them – I can’t count how many of my classmates joined the service after 9/11.
I’m proud to be from a place where veterans are accorded such respect. They certainly deserve it – without those who would fight and die for our freedoms, we would be a much different country than we are today.
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