Monday, July 7, 2008

Iowa Vets Finally Have a Place to Rest in Peace

Since March 2003, 67 soldiers with Iowa ties have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now, thanks to the recent dedication of the Iowa Veterans Cemetery (IVC) in Van Meter, Iowa’s latest fallen soldiers will have a final resting place in Iowa, where family and friends can pay their respects.

“This cemetery will be a fitting and honorable resting place for veterans who sacrificed so much for our freedom,” Gov. Chet Culver said in a statement prior to the dedication ceremony. “Every day will be Memorial Day and Veterans Day at this place of reverence.”

“The Department is extremely excited about the opening of the cemetery,” Patrick Palmersheim, Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs, said in a statement. “We are grateful for the support of the Federal [Veterans Administration], Governor Culver, former Governor [Tom] Vilsack, the Iowa Legislature, and all the Veteran service organizations for making this dream a reality.”

The official dedication of the IVC took place Thursday and was attended by a number of Iowa’s political dignitaries, including Culver, Vilsack and Sen. Chuck Grassley,
who helped procure $7.6 million from the Department of Veterans Affairs State Cemetery Grant Program for the veterans cemetery.

“Those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country deserve a proper place for remembrance in their home state,” Grassley said in a statement earlier this year. “This cemetery will provide family, friends, and fellow Iowans with an opportunity to pay their respects to our fallen soldiers.”

The IVC is the first federally funded construction of a state-owned and –operated veterans cemetery in the state of Iowa. The cemetery serves the veteran population throughout the state and around the country, as there is no state residency requirement to be interred. Honorably discharged veterans are eligible for interment at the cemetery at no cost; the spouse of a veteran can be interred for a cost of $300. Ultimately, the IVC will provide burial space for up to 80,000 burials. Thus far, over 1,000 veterans and eligible dependents have already been determined eligible.

In 2001, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (USDVA) study identified Iowa as needing a dedicated, state-owned and –operated veterans cemetery. The study counted over 280,000 veterans living in Iowa, with about 92,000 living within a 75-mile radius of Des Moines. This study triggered Iowa’s political leaders to get involved and help procure the necessary funding to help build, maintain and operate the cemetery.

The Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) began fundraising for the cemetery on Veterans Day 2004 with the sale of Bronze and Silver Iowa Veteran Commemorative Medals. In 2005, Iowa’s legislature gave IDVA the authority to “establish and operate” a state veterans cemetery.

Construction of the IVC began in July 2007, on 100 acres of land donated by the Knapp and Kenyon families. The first phase of construction has developed 40 acres that will provide for approximately 20 years of operation.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve as the director of the Iowa Veterans Cemetery,” Director Steve Young said in a statement. “Our goal for this facility is to provide first-class, respectful service so that our veterans and their families will be remembered in perpetuity.”


mona said...

Hi everyone,
This is a wonderful and peaceful place in Iowa, where we can take rest and family and friends can pay their respects.

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bobmike said...

Anyway it’s a nice thing. I would say that soldiers are the pillars of a country. They sacrifice everything for people they don’t even know, leaving their family their kids and everything in their life just to save their country. But it was rude that there is not much privilege given to a soldier who sacrificed his life for the country. So this is one of the ways we can show our respect to them. Hats off to you brave brothers.


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