Memorial Day 2008 was memorable for many reasons.
As many of you have heard, an F5 tornado (more pics here) ripped through Parkersburg, Iowa (30 miles north of our home) and destroyed 350 homes in a town with a population of 2,000. We saw reports of the storm almost immediately after it hit from the Channel 13 helicopter. It was stunning to see the immense destruction, the loss of life (5 in Parkersburg, 2 in New Hartford), and the grieving of the community's residents. Then, something amazing happened... Teenagers came out in droves to help their friends, family, and neighbors. Surrounding communities gathered in prayer and then met to determine how they could help. Inspirational stories of hope and determination flooded the local papers and tv stations.
On Monday, I had the honor of organizing the Memorial Day Program at the Iowa Veterans Home. About 200 people crowded into the event space for a brief program, singing, and saluting. Then, we marched down to the Veterans Cemetery on the grounds where a resident laid the memorial wreath, participants placed pine boughs on the some of the 2,500 graves, and Taps was played. It was during Taps that this resident bowed his head in memory of his fallen comrades. The whole experience was so moving.