NORTH LIBERTY– Under clear turquois skies and a waving banner of red, white and blue, area veterans were honored at a flag dedication ceremony at the North Liberty Living Center on Sept. 11, Patriot Day.
Special guest Bruce Aune, anchorman for KCRG-TV9 news, gave the opening speech at the event.
“We know this is not a day for celebration,” Aune began. “It is a day for somber remembrance, a day when close to 3,000 innocent peoople lost their lives.”
The North Liberty Living Center at 410 Ashley Ct. set an outdoor stage for the event around a central flag pole in the facility’s main drive. Living Center residents Don and Wanda Baird dedicated a new flag to be flown there.
“We dedicate this flag in hopes the flag will forever fly over this country in freedom and justice,” Wanda Baird told the crowd.
The Bairds moved into the North Liberty Living Center last October, and Wanda noticed right away there was no flag flying on the premises.
“I felt we needed a flag pole out here. Being a veterans’ wife, I love my country and the veterans who served, and the ones who are still serving,” Wanda said. She and Don– an Army veteran of the Korean Conflict– bought and donated the flag, and Living Center Director Karen Davis had a pole installed so it could be flown. After getting input from other residents, Davis and Wanda Baird coordinated a flag raising ceremony to commemorate the occasion, appropriately scheduling it for 9-11.
Aune said the flag is a symbol of the unity of this nation, a quality that is heightened each Sept. 11.
“Even though this date marks one of the worst days in our country’s history, it also brings us together as one people,” Aune said. “People of all races, religions and political beliefs honor (those who died) together.”
Members of area American Legion halls including those from North Liberty, Oxford, Swisher and Durant, attended the event to provide a Color Guard of soldiers bearing flags and a rifle squad to do a 21-gun salute. North Liberty American Legion Post 1976 Commander Rob O’Rear and Swisher American Legion Post 671 Adjutant Harlan Yoder raised the flag together, which was flown at half-mast in memorial to the fallen of Sept. 11, 2001. The assembled crowd was invited to join in the Pledge of Allegiance and in singing the national anthem, which was performed by Tamatha Kent. Richard Bryant, a member of Tiffin’s Grace United Methodist Church, offered a prayer in memory of the victims of 9-11.
After the benediction, Davis gave red roses to each of the veterans in attendance. Musical trio 151, of Cedar Rapids, sang a medley of patriotic songs, and a reception was held in the Living Center common area afterward.
“The veterans were very honored,” Davis said after the event. “One veteran made a comment to me that no one had every done anything like this for him before. I don’t think we honor our veterans often enough, and it’s a reminder that something so simple can mean so much. It was very touching.”