The public was driven indoors, thanks to thunderstorms, to honor veterans past in the annual Memorial Day ceremony held in the Ellen Kennedy Fine Arts Center at Anamosa High School.
It was Col. Todd Jacobus that took center stage for the ceremony as the keynote speaker for 2019. In his speech, Jacobus highlighted the places that became synonymous with American military service. Among them were: Bunker Hill and Yorktown in the American Revolutionary War, Queenston from the War of 1812, Shiloh in the Civil War, Verdun in World War I, Okinawa in World War II, Inchon in the Korean War, Hanoi in the Vietnam War, Kuwait City in the Gulf War and Karbala and Fallujah from his own time in Iraq during the War on Terror.
“These are places I’d never heard before,” he said of the Iraqi cities he listed off.
It was speaking about his time serving in Iraq where Jacobus got emotional, remembering the five men he lost from his National Guard battalion in 2005: 2nd Lt. Brian Gienau, Spc. Seth Garceau, Spc. John Wayne Miller, Spc. Casey Beyers and Sgt. Robert Briggs.
“I think about how these men truly lost two lives. They lost the lives that they were living and they lost the lives they would have lived,” Jacobus said, voice breaking with emotion. “I say these soldiers’ names today because I don’t want them to be forgotten. The families of these soldiers will never be the same, and we are here today to honor them among others.”
In addition to the men he lost, Jacobus took time to single out for remembrance Pvt. Arthur McCullough, namesake of Anamosa’s American Legion Post 13, the first Jones County resident to die in World War I and Pvt. Gale Edwards, the namesake of the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post, who lost his life in World War II.
In discussing World War I, he singled out Pvt. Merle David Hay, the first Iowan to die in World War I and one of the first Americans to perish in the conflict.
Jacobus left the gathered crowd with this message.
“We must take this opportunity to strengthen ourselves for what lies ahead. In this world, terror will not rest, violence will not sleep and evil will not die. If we honor and remember those that ably served and commit their actions in our memory, compassion will prevail, justice will triumph and freedom will reign,” he said.
The ceremony also featured a wreath laying by Paige Mulford and Elijah Secrist, a performance by the Anamosa High School band, an invocation by Father Nick March of St. Patrick Catholic Church and a reading of “In Flanders Fields” by Ike Claussen-Tubbs.
Due to the weather, the planned ceremony at the courthouse and Memorial Day parade were cancelled.