JOHNSTON, Iowa -- Memorial Day is often thought of as a long weekend or the unofficial start of summer, but at Camp Dodge the Iowa National Guard and volunteers that are a part of the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum hold an event to remind the community the day is much more than that.
“Memorial Day started as Decoration Day, May 5 of 1868. The G.A.R., which was an organization of Union veterans established the day and put spring flowers on the graves of Union soldiers that had died. In the time since then, it has been made to include any American soldier that has died in any war of any kind and in 1971 became a federal holiday,” Colonel Greg Hapgood said.
The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum focuses on remembering Iowans and their contributions to the war.
“One of the things we do in this museum, we are not here to glamorize war, there’s nothing glamorous about war. But we want to extend this message of our freedoms to our fellow citizens, particularly to kids,” Board Chair Bob Holliday said.
Holliday’s father died in World War II and that’s why Memorial Day is so important to him.
“Every day is Memorial Day for people like me. There’s no question about that. If I can say one thing to people that might be listening is, you need to stop occasionally and think about this country of ours and how good we do have it. And we do. And these freedoms that we live under and the price that’s been paid for them. You don’t need to dwell on that, but we have to recognize what’s been paid to allow us to live the way we do,” Holliday said.
They served a traditional S.O.S. military breakfast which is sausage gravy on toast, flowers were available to plant for a veteran and homemade ice cream was scooped out at the entrance to the museum.