Monday, September 10, 2007

Fallen Iowa Soldier’s Half-Staff Tribute Overshadowed by 9/11 Patriot Day

On Friday, Gov. Chet Culver called for flags to be flown half-staff Tuesday to honor Sgt. Kevin Gilbertson, a Cedar Rapids native, who died Friday in Iraq. The timing of Culver’s order coincides with Presidents Bush’s directive that requires all flags located on government-owned property to be flown half-staff in recognition of Patriot Day.

I also call upon the Governors of the United States and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, as well as appropriate officials of all units of government, to direct that the flag be flown at half-staff on Patriot Day. Further, I encourage all Americans to display the flag at half-staff from their homes on that day and to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. eastern daylight time, or another appropriate commemorative time, to honor the innocent victims who lost their lives as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

Either way, all flags should be flying half-staff tomorrow in the state of Iowa, and Gilbertson will be buried with military honors at the Cedar Memorial Park Cemetery at 11 a.m. While most Iowans memories will be preoccupied with the memories and events surrounding Sept. 11, 2001, it’s important not to forget Iowa’s fallen sons and daughters, who have paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives.

One such person is Army Sgt. Kevin Gilbertson, 24, who was shot by enemy forces in Ramadi, Iraq, while on foot patrol Wednesday. Two days later, Gilbertson died in a Germany hospital, where he lived with his wife and eight-month old son. Gilbertson is the 61st person with Iowa ties to die in conflicts in Iraq or Afghanistan since March 2003.Gilbertson was a graduate of Cedar Rapids Jefferson High School. He served with the 1st Battalion, 77th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, based in Scheweinfurt, Germany, and was serving his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"He joined the Army right out of high school to get a college education when he got out," Don Gilbertson, the soldier's father told the Des Moines Register. "His dream was getting a degree and supporting his family. He was the greatest kid in the world."

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