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Veterans Day goes virtual at Iowa Veterans Cemetery

Sean Cordy
Correspondent
Flags decorate graves at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery for Veterans Day.

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.

Van Meter Mayor Allan Adams speaks during the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs' annual Veterans Day service at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery. This year's program was live streamed on Facebook.

"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.

Rear Admiral USNR Robert Nowakowski speaks during the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs' live stream of the annual Veterans Day service at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery.

"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.

State Command Chief Warrant Officer Joedy Van Velzen speaks during the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs' annual service at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery.

"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.

Chaplain Antonette Tom speaks on Wednesday, Nov. 11 during the virtual Veterans Day program at the Iowa Veterans Cemetery.
Steven Lukan, Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs executive director, during the Pledge of Allegiance.
Van Meter High School student Ben Adams performs taps during the Veterans Day program on Wednesday, Nov. 11 at Iowa Veterans Cemetery.