General Orr headlines Veterans' Day Service

Clint Cole - Editor
General Timothy Orr, Adjuntant General of the Iowa National Guard takes to the podium as the guest speaker at the Veterans' Day Service. The Iowa Veterans Cemetery held its annual Veterans' Day service on Friday, Nov. 11.

Every year the Iowa Veterans Cemetery holds a Veterans' Day Service at the cemetery near Van Meter, located along County Highway R-16. This year the sun was shining on a chilly morning for the service on Friday, Nov. 11. 

Robert Steben, interim director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs presided over the service, the National Anthem was sung by the Waukee High School Small Group, the invocation and benediction were given by CH (MAJ) Martha Kester, the guest speaker was General Timothy Orr of the Iowa National Guard, Gloria Doyle played the Sounding of Taps and the Central Campus Army JROTC Red Bull Battalion presented and retired the colors. 

When giving his opening remarks to the crowd in the Committal Shelter at the cemetery, Steben said that it was a "lovely" place to have the service. 

"We think of cemeteries as being a sad place, but it's a precious place for our loved ones to be laid," Steben said. 

Previously known as "Armistice Day," Veterans' Day marks the day that the armistice was signed back in 1918, effectively ending World War II. Today, we use this day to recognize all veterans, past and present from all branches of the military. 

"Today is our day to remember those who have served this nation, for those who continue to serve," Orr said during his remarks. "We gather here this morning as Iowans and citizens and our nation all around this country to recognize veterans of all services who have sacrificed in both war and in peace to protect... our freedom." 

Orr took a moment to allow the veterans who were present to stand and be recognized by a round of applause during his remarks while also pointing out that more than 240,000 Iowans have served in the military over the years. 

"Despite taking off the uniform, many veterans have continued to serve our nation, our state, our communities in some capacity," Orr said. "For veterans service isn't a phase in their life, it's a life-long commitment."

Orr talked about how the United States is still a nation at war and that U.S. forces have operated in Afghanistan for 15 continuous years. He said that Veterans Day is also about honoring those continuing to serve. 

The service ended with the Sounding of Taps and the retiring of the colors.

Afterwards, many people stuck around at the cemetery and visited the graves of veterans who have passed away.