Visit Veterans' Memorials Throughout Calhoun CountyThe willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude, especially in Calhoun County.
Visit Veterans’ Memorials Throughout Calhoun County
The willingness of America’s veterans to sacrifice for our country has earned them our lasting gratitude, especially in Calhoun County.
Farnhamville Veterans Park. When Calhoun County’s newest tribute to veterans was dedicated May 28, 2023, it represented the fruition of a goal that took root 25 years ago. “When you consider that the trees behind me were planted in 1998, it’s clear this park is the culmination of many years of work to honor local veterans,” said Paul Kail, a Vietnam veteran and member of Farnhamville American Legion Post 510.
Today, this park at the north edge of town includes three massive, metal flagpoles set in a smooth, concrete base. This marked the completion of phase two of the three-phase project, which started with the installation of a sidewalk in 2018.
Nearby stands a gleaming, black monument that was set in April 2021. Measuring 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 10 inches thick, the 3,840-pound stone came from a quarry in the Red River Valley. In April 2021, Kallin-Johnson Monument Company of Ft. Dodge installed the stone, which is inscribed with the insignias from all the branches of the U.S. armed forces, along with the words “Freedom is Never Free: Farnhamville Veterans Memorial, Post 510, In Honor of the Men and Women Who Served Our Country in the Armed Forces.”
The monument and Veterans Memorial Park have transformed a 400-foot by 65-foot area that served as a football field for the Cedar Valley school district in the late 1960s into the 1970s. When this football field was no longer needed, the space became a grassy, empty lot for many years.
Local veterans like Kail saw this as a unique space to honor veterans and connect the community. Veterans Memorial Park sits west of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and north of Nolte Field, a baseball diamond named in honor of Myron Nolte, a former member of the local American Legion.
Creating Veterans Memorial Park wasn’t easy, especially since a project of this scale requires thousands of dollars. Members of American Legion Post 510 and the local American Legion Auxiliary hosted countless soup suppers, fish fries, gun auctions and quilt raffles through the years. “We raised about $16,000 in 10 years,” Kail said.
Those funds not only helped purchase the monument, but they helped project leaders secure some sizable grants, including a Calhoun Community Foundation grant and a Grow Greene County grant.
During the Veterans Memorial Park dedication ceremony at 2:30 p.m. on May 28, 2023, brothers Randy, Reggie and Roger Kopecky, who grew up in Farnhamville, raised the American flag, the Iowa flag and the POW/MIA flag at the Veterans Memorial Park. The flag pole area, which was completed in September 2022, includes a 25-foot flagpole in the center for the American flag. During the dedication, Larry Brown, a Farnhamville American Legion Post 510 member, thanked all the community members who made this possible, from local farmer and veteran Dave Seil, who dug the holes for the flagpole footings, to Ryan Willison, owner of Willison Concrete in Farnhamville.
All that has extra meaning for a veteran like Kail. The 1962 Cedar Valley High School graduate was drafted into the U.S. Army during the turbulent years of the 1960s and served in the military for two years, including one in Vietnam. When he and his fellow soldiers landed back in the United States at the airport in San Francisco, it’s wasn’t a warm welcome.
“Protestors were chucking beer bottles over the fence at us,” said Kail, who received a much warmer welcome when he turned home to Farnhamville.
After farming for a number of years, Kail opened Kail Tax Service in 1984, which he continues to operate. Both he and his wife, Rita, are active volunteers in Farnhamville. Community members like Shari Everhart appreciate their efforts. “The Veterans Memorial Park not only enhances the town, but it’s an important way to honor all the veterans who fought to protect our freedom and our way of life.”
Members of the Farnhamville American Legion Post 510 are already looking forward to the final phase of their three-phase plan for the Veterans Memorial Park. “In phase three, we hope to complete a walkway around the perimeter of the park and add a gazebo at the west end of the park,” Kail said.
Kail also hopes local veterans’ legacy of devotion to duty and civic responsibility will continue to inspire people today. “My uncles served in World War 2 and taught me in the importance of duty and service,” Kail said. “When I look at Veterans Memorial Park, it’s so great to see this all come together. I hope we can finish this last phase, too.”
Calhoun County Freedom Rock. The Calhoun County Freedom Rock on the northwest side of the courthouse in Rockwell City defines the Calhoun County Veteran Memorial Park. Painted in 2014 by Iowa artist Ray “Bubba” Sorenson, the Freedom Rock was dedicated in November 2015. Nearly 200 people attended this Veterans’ Day service, including Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, who spoke during the event.
The Calhoun County Freedom Rock committee had a few requests for the design of this rock, including a P47 plane (which a local veteran flew for many successful missions, an eagle, an American flag and a general thank you to all veterans.
“With that freedom to get creative, I put a huge Thank You Veterans on the front feature side, with a soldier carrying one of his wounded to safety,” Sorenson said. “A couple P47s fly in the background over the soldiers, and there’s a side view of the USS Iowa.”
On the back of the rock, an eagle clutches a ribbon that states, “The price of freedom will never be forgotten.” An American flag is painted to look as if it’s draped over the top of rock, plus the rock remembers prisoners of war and those who were missing in action.
Lake City Honor Rock. Dedicated in 2014, this rock is painted with patriotic symbols and images that honor people currently serving in the U.S. armed forces, as well as America’s veterans. Located on the south side of Highway 175, between the Lake City Food Center and Sparky’s convenience store, this impressive stone was painted by local artist and craftsman Noel Blair of Lake City. Wilbur Wiederin, a local veteran, donated the massive stone. Jared Mohr, owner of Mohr Sand, Gravel & Construction, donated the labor and equipment to set the massive stone in place. Community members’ donations, along with funds from the Lake City American Legion Post 31 and Lake City VFW Post 1889, helped pay for the painting of the rock.
Pomeroy Veterans Park. While it might seem like a simple memorial, there are powerful stories in the stones in the Pomeroy Veterans Park. This remarkable tribute proves how a small Calhoun County town can achieve big things.
“Like many people, I have a veteran in my family,” said Cindy Loots, the major of Pomeroy who spearheaded this $50,000 project. “My father, Wayne Hansen, served in the Army and was stationed in Texas, waiting to be deployed when World War II ended. It became a passion of mine to make sure Pomeroy-area veterans’ names would be preserved.”
There were plenty of challenges along the way, but Pomeroy (population 522) prevailed, creating a Veterans Park that will stand the test of time. For the whole story, click here.
written by Darcy Maulsby