Veterans are not always adequately recognized for their efforts on behalf of the country. It's always heartening when groups, individuals and government agencies correct these oversights, giving vets the honors and remembrance they deserve. It's especially important to keep elderly veterans in mind as their service careers fade into the history books. Though it's been over 70 years since the last shot was fired in World War II, communities around the country are keeping veterans of the conflict in their thoughts, engaging in positive civic gestures.
Belated medals handed out in Iowa
There are still many vets in this country who are owed honors, commendations or medals they haven't received. In Iowa, two men who served in the Navy during World War II recently received their awards after decades. According to KMA News, Dean Kester and Harold Walter both earned the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal. Walter also earned the Discharge Button and Honorable Service Lapel Pin, while Kester was owed the American Defense Service Medal and the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal.
The source noted that the two veterans received their belated honors at a ceremony in Lenox, Iowa, hosted by Senator Joni Ernst. The lawmaker told the news provider that other vets in the state who may have outstanding honors should contact her office to receive their awards, no matter how long ago they earned them. The ceremony for Kester and Walter was the first of several scheduled to commemorate Veterans Day in Iowa.
Numerous circumstances could have caused veterans to come home without all the medals and other honors they qualified for. Ernst told KMA that the chaos inherent to wartime can lead to these ceremonies falling by the wayside. Now that these service members are home, they can finally receive the medals they've earned, whether it has been seven or 70 years since they were discharged.
Local history remembered
The huge number of men and women who enlisted in the armed forces during World War II means the conflict had a seismic impact on towns and cities throughout the country. Remembering this impact is another way to keep the people who fought in World War II in mind, even all these years later. Illinois news source the Daily Herald recently spotlighted Cynthia Christ Nelson's scrapbook of clippings that chronicled the town of Elgin's involvement in the war. Nelson plans to donate her collection to the Elgin History Museum, so the public can share in the memories.
Contained in the scrapbook are stories of heroism and sacrifice, with members of the community sometimes enlisting directly out of high school or taking groups of friends with them into the service. In stories that served as a precursor to the recent surge in female enlistment, many women from Elgin served in World War II, joining the ranks of nurses or the Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES). Having a deep reservoir of contemporary news reports about one region's role in helping win World War II puts a local spin and a human face on the conflict. This is valuable perspective more than 70 years later.