November 12, 2013

Oskaloosa honors its veterans

The Oskaloosa Herald

OSKALOOSA — Nov. 11 is a special day as the nation honors its veterans for their service and sacrifice. Oskaloosa held its remembrance service at the American Legion post Monday morning.

Master of Ceremonies Fred Bridges said the armistice that ended the First World War was signed in Paris on Nov. 11, 1918. Unofficially the nation commemorated that date until 1938 when Congress passed a bill and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed it designating Armistice Day as a national holiday. In 1954, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, Bridges said.

Pastor Alvern Boetsma of the Good News Chapel was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

“Freedom is not free,” Boetsma said.

Boetsma honored veterans for their service and paid homage to those who made the supreme sacrifice for their country with several short stories of families who lost a service member overseas or people who raised money to buy Track Chairs for disabled veterans. He also recounted a friend’s account of his homecoming from Vietnam when he took off his uniform at the airport to avoid harassment.

“Thank God that has changed,” Boetsma said. “Welcome back,” Boetsma said to all veterans.

Boetsma also recounted his visits to Washington, D.C., and the veterans monuments he had seen.

Boetsma said the Vietnam Veterans memorial was “as quiet there as this room.”

Boetsma spoke about his brother, who had been drafted to serve in Vietnam while he himself was in seminary to become a minister. Boestma said he felt some shame for receiving a draft deferment while he was in seminary.

Boetsma also saw the World War II memorial during a visit. Boetsma told of seeing the section honoring Iowa and his home state of Michigan.

“Thank God for Iowa. Thank God for Michigan. Thank God for all the soldiers,” he said.

Boetsma also thanked the members of the veterans honor guard for their service at veterans’ funerals.

“You’ve been there for many of your fallen comrades,” he said.

Bridges also honored the service of female members of the armed forces. He honored three women in the audience who have served their country. Julie Wells, Stacey Raymie and Cheryl Charma.

Members of the Mahaska County Stitch n Quilt Guild gave quilts to veterans at the end of the program.

Veteran Joe S. Crookham told of visiting the national World War I museum in downtown Kansas City.

“It was incredible,” he said. “There was so much to see.”

The museum featured artifacts, uniforms, displays and films, he said.

“It’s really something to see. I could spend all day there,” he said.

The honor guard closed out the ceremony with a 21-gun salute and a bugler who played “Taps.”

Herald Editor Duane Nollen can be reached by email at oskynews@oskyherald.com