New Memorial Day event held in Albion, Lt. Gov. Gregg speaks at IVH

AREA — Marshall County residents came out to show their appreciation and respect for soldiers who died in the line of service at local Memorial Day ceremonies Monday, which included a new event at the Raymon Veterans Park in Albion and an appearance from Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg at the Iowa Veterans Home.

Raymon Donco Air Distribution Equipment Owner/CEO Larry Raymon, a National Guard veteran, served as the master of ceremonies and keynote speaker for the inaugural event at the Raymon Veterans Park in Albion, which was completed in 2021. Raymon was happy to see a sizable turnout at the service as it began at 8 a.m. sharp.

Following the raising of the colors and a performance of the national anthem by Elisabeth Bieber, Pastor Matt Bishop of the Bangor Liberty Friends Church delivered the invocation, and four members of the Marshalltown Men’s Chorus — Stacy Heil, Larry Pfantz, Andy Schwandt and Tom Kirner — sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “In Flanders Fields.” Wayne Rayman then placed the Missing in Action wreath, and Krystal Randall performed “Eternal Father Strong to Save” on flute.

During his remarks, Raymon offered a stark reminder of the cost of war by mentioning a handout included with the program showing the death tolls in each of the 13 conflicts and 68 military actions the U.S. has been involved in throughout its history as a nation.

“Over 1.3 million men and women have died to preserve our freedom and our way of life. Today we say thank you. We will not forget you. God bless you,” he said.

He then provided some history of the Memorial Day holiday, first known as Decoration Day and reminded the audience that while some honor all veterans on this holiday, it is specifically focused on those who died in service to their country.

“In these troubled times, some Americans have forgotten the meaning of this day. We have not. Those gathered here today understand that our armed forces have always been the surest guarantee that freedom will endure,” Raymon said. “There is today, however, an endless stream of those who do not share our values and our right to pursue happiness. They come with hatred in their hearts, and they use their words, their technology and their guns to attack us. They erode our freedoms piece by piece as they attack the institutions that are the foundations of our republic. It is the veteran that stands between us and the tyranny of their oppression.”

Citing the fact that less than 10 percent of the population voluntarily serves in the military today, Raymond concluded with an oft-repeated Ronald Reagan quote: “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.” He implored everyone in the crowd to do their part to protect freedom unless they wish to spend their twilight years reminiscing on a bygone era.

“We who remember must stand guard against the enemy of apathy, lest the price these veterans have paid will have been in vain and the institutions we have so loved will fade into the dark of history,” he said.

Following a rendition of “America the Beautiful” from the men’s quartet and a benediction from Bishop, the combined Marshalltown American Legion/VFW Honor Guard performed a gun salute, and “Taps” was played to end the ceremony.

At IVH, the crowd congregated inside of the Malloy Leisure Resource Center at 10:30 a.m., allowing both the Men’s Chorus and the combined Honor Guard to make it to both events, and Commandant Todd Jacobus served as the master of ceremonies. Local Boy Scout Troop 308 presented the colors, and Jacobus commended them for decorating over 3,000 graves.

Following the singing of “The Star Spangled Banner” by Madison Pickett and Meredith Kodis, the audience recited the Pledge of Allegiance, and IVH Chaplain Ryan Trosen delivered the invocation. The Men’s Chorus again sang patriotic tunes before Jacobus introduced the lieutenant governor as the keynote speaker.

Gregg, a native of Hawarden, reiterated the Commandant’s earlier remarks about how grateful Iowans are for the sacrifices of soldiers who have died fighting for their freedom dating back to the Civil War.

“Iowans have consistently answered the call of duty. We thank you for that,” he said. “The Governor and I could not be more proud of the service and sacrifice that Iowa veterans have given to their state and to their country. We truly appreciate it.”

He spoke of his own grandfather, Glenn Gregg, his service in World War II and the fact that he received a Purple Heart for being shot in the leg near the Belgian/German border 70 years after the fact. Borrowing from the eulogy he gave at his Glenn’s funeral, Gregg asked a simple question.

“What are we gonna do when the world runs out of Glenn Greggs?” he asked. “What are we gonna do when the world runs out of young men like Glenn, who step up, bright eyed and eager to fight for their country when it comes under attack, who kiss their mothers goodbye maybe forever and who eventually show up on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day plus 10?”

He then urged Iowans to follow the example of people like Glenn Gregg and the veterans in the room on Monday by answering the call of service in whatever form it takes.

“Give back to your community. Cheer hard for your team. Love your spouse, your kids, your family and your country, and never forget the sacrifice that it took to allow us to enjoy this beauty, this peace and this freedom that we’re blessed to enjoy today,” Gregg said. “Thank you, God bless you, and God bless this great state and country of ours.”

Following a few more numbers from the Men’s Chorus, Jacobus, a 30-year military man himself, took a few moments to reflect on the value of service.

“While we all know that getting older comes with its challenges, it’s truly a privilege to be able to grow old because there are 1.2 million Americans who never had that privilege,” he said. “Because they sacrificed their tomorrows for our today.”

Trosen then gave the benediction, and the IVH service also concluded with a gun salute in the courtyard area and the traditional playing of “Taps.”


Contact Robert Maharry at 641-753-6611 ext. 255 or rmaharry@timesrepublican.com.


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