Veterans Day goes virtual at Iowa Veterans Cemetery
Nearly 200 people across the state participated in the Veterans Day Ceremony early Wednesday morning. At least, that was the view count on the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs' Facebook live stream of the annual service at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery in Van Meter.
Abiding by county recommendations, the service was held virtually with the exception of guest speakers and a limited audience of veterans. Such circumstance was not lost on Van Meter mayor Allan Adams who reminded viewers that Veterans Day isn't the only day to tribute service.
"As you are out and about today and you see a veteran wearing their hat or uniform, please make sure to give them a great 'Thank you for your service' or a thumbs up or however you'd like to do it. Just remember that every day is a great day to thank a veteran," Adams said.
Navy Rear Admiral Robert Nowakowski spoke of the gratitude his fellow veterans and service members receive and reciprocate throughout the day, asking people to not only think of the sacrifices but the why veterans enlisted into service.
"I can speak for many of us and say we do not expect any thanks for what we do. But please understand that when you are thanked, it comes from a deep place of admiration and love," Nowakowski said. "It is the country acknowledging that they can never return the favor of our service. But they want to try. They want to recognize what you have done for the country. They want to pay that kindness and sacrifice forward."
As the keynote speaker, State Command Chief Warrant Officer Joedy Van Velzen noted the history of the day but also encouraged people to not only think of military members but teachers, doctors, engineers, elected officials, social workers and first responders alike for their positive service to communities.
"Not every veteran performs great acts of valor. But every veteran is truly a hero in their own right simply because they served," Van Velzen said.
Remarks were also given by Chaplain Antonette Tom and Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs executive director Steven Lukan. Van Meter High School student Ben Adams played taps to help conclude the ceremony.