Oskaloosan’s Celebrate Their Veterans

The honor guard raises the flag over the Mahaska County Senior Center on Thursday, November 9, 2017.

The honor guard raises the flag over the Mahaska County Senior Center on Thursday, November 9, 2017.

Oskaloosa, Iowa – All around Oskaloosa, people celebrated the sacrifices made by those who have served in the armed forces of the United States.

On Thursday, members of the Senior Center dedicated a new flagpole that was donated by Steve Scholtus, a board member for the agency, and his wife Cindy. The flag itself was donated by Jim Raines.

The day featured the honor guard of American Legion Post 34 and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2237 as they held a dedication and flag-raising ceremony.

Cheryl Brown, with the Mahaska County Agency on Aging, said that many people and groups helped to make the day possible.

The facility and the area around the new flagpole got a facelift with the help of United Way and Rotary during the recent Day of Caring.

Altrusa International of Oskaloosa also played a role in helping, by helping to finish the painting for the senior center.

The money for the paint was raised from an event held at the center earlier in the year, and board member Steve Scholtus spent hours prepping the surface for paint.

During the ceremony, former legion post commander Fred Bridges said that “every color on the flag means liberty.”

The honor guard then raised the flag over the Mahaska County Senior Center.

Afterwards, veterans and community members joined together for a meal together. The decorations in the middle of the dining tables had plastic soldiers, often referred to as army men.

Visitors were encouraged to take one of those army men home with them, and place it somewhere where they would see it daily to remind them “to pray for those who serve and protect or great country and for those who have given the ultimate gift of freedom.”

On Friday, the Oskaloosa High School welcomed veterans to the school and held a special assembly in their honor.

There, Oskaloosa High School student Jacob Spears honored the service of his grandfather, Jerry Lenox, who was present in the gymnasium.

Spears spoke about the sacrifices made by Lenox during the Vietnam War in 1970 and 1971, so that s could better appreciate Veterans Day.

Lenox graduated from OHS in 1968 and was drafted into the Army when he was 19 years old.

Veterans enjoyed a free breakfast at Hy-Vee on Saturday morning, November 11th 2017.

Veterans enjoyed a free breakfast at Hy-Vee on Saturday morning, November 11th 2017.

Having never left Iowa before being drafted, Lenox found himself in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam, where 31 soldiers killed in action were loaded on planes bound back to the United States. Lenox was left to wonder what he was getting into.

Lenox, ultimately being one of the replacements for those deceased soldiers, found himself on patrol south of Da Nang, Vietnam, where the temperature was over 100 degrees nearly every day.

Walking point through the jungles a week at a time, with 100 pounds of supplies, Lenox slept in the jungle.

Spears said that the platoon his grandfather was in never encountered any serious firefights, although they suffered casualties through mortar fire and land mines.

Spears closed his speech about his grandfather, discussing how members of his platoon have had the chance to reconnect after 47 years apart. When it comes to veterans, Spears describes them as, “Just regular people, but more selfless.”

At the Oskaloosa Hy-Vee on Saturday morning, veterans were greeted by the red carpet and a warm thank you from the employees of the store.

The honor guard held a ceremony out front of the store, underneath a large United States flag hoisted aloft by a Musco light truck.

Members of the Oskaloosa High School Choir sang for the gathered veterans, and later Nashville recording artist Jason Brown performed.

By mid-morning, many veterans and their families had made their way to the American Legion building, where the annual Veterans Day program was held.

The special guest speaker was Chief Master Sergeant Mark P. Miller, who “is responsible for the morale, welfare, training, management, and professional development of the enlisted Airmen assigned to the 132nd Wing”.

“We gather here to recognize veterans of all services, who have sacrificed in both war and peace to protect both America and our freedoms,” said Miller. “As we gather together on this peaceful November day, thousands of Iowans serve in harms way around the globe.”

Miller spoke about the origins of Veterans Day, when it was known as Armistice Day after victory in World War I and first observed in November of 1919.

After the Korean War, the US Congress replaced the word Armistice with Veterans, “to honor all US veterans each year on November 11th and bring greater unity to the nation.”

Approximately 22 million Americans have served as members of the armed forces, or roughly seven percent of the population, and have protected the other 93% and their freedoms.

In Iowa, that number is approximately 240,000 who have served in the United States armed forces.

The honor guard performs their 21-gun salute on Saturday after the program at the American Legion. November 11, 2017

The honor guard performs their 21-gun salute on Saturday after the program at the American Legion. November 11, 2017

“Despite taking off the uniform, many veterans continue to serve our nation, state and communities in some capacity. For veterans, service isn’t a phase of their life, but a lifelong commitment,” added Miller.

“Whether they served our nation recently or decades ago, veterans represent an unwavering dedication to freedom, and exemplify the highest ideals of service to America,” continued Miller.

“On this day, we are still a nation at war,” said Miller, who referenced October 7, 2017, as the 16th continuous year that US forces have operated in Afghanistan “seeking justice for those Americans killed in terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

“For nearly 400 years, the guardians of our nation have been willing to serve and sacrifice for a country, for a cause they love more than their own lives”, added Miller. “To all veterans, past and present, and to your families, there is no tribute, no recognition, no praise that can truly match the magnitude of your service and your sacrifice. We are truly grateful to you, and your commitment to our nation.”

The ceremony ended with a 21-gun salute.

A dinner was then provided for veterans and their families.

Members of the honor guard then spent several hours that afternoon delivering quilts and providing ceremonies at various nursing homes in the area.

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Posted by on Nov 12 2017. Filed under Local News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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