Relatives want fallen remembered

A week before he was killed in Iraq on April 6, 2006, by an IED, Iowa Army National Guard Sgt. Dan Sesker got some good news from home – he was going to be a father.

He was 22 years old.

His mom, Mysty Stumbo, of Boone, talked about her son Saturday morning during the opening ceremony for the Remember Our Fallen Iowa display at the Crossroads Mall.

She is not afraid to remember her son. She is not afraid to talk about him. She wants him to be remembered.

“We carry them with us through pictures, memories and traditions,” Stumbo said.

She does live with one fear.

“We will never forget,” she said. “Our biggest fear is that you will.”

Stumbo asked others not to be afraid to talk to those who have lost someone in combat.

“We love to hear the memories you have of them,” she said.

The Rev. Marvin Smith opened the ceremony.

“They fought for freedom, they laid down their lives,” he said. “They should never be forgotten.”

Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich also spoke.

He said he hopes that those who see the display will bring others.

“Bring another person back here to see this,” he said.

State Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, also spoke. Beall is chairman of the Iowa Senate’s Veterans Affairs Committee.

“We can not do enough, or too much, for our veterans,” he said.

Beall urged everyone to offer the vets three r’s – remember, respect and record.

“Remember their sacrifice,” he said. “Let us remember to say thank you.”

Beall expressed his impatience and anger with the federal Department of Veterans Affairs backlog of cases.

“We’ve had veterans die while they were waiting,” he said. “That is obscene.”

Beall also recalled his own encounter with World War I veterans as a child.

“I was only a kid,” he said. “But I knew those guys had done something great.”

He thanked the vets for their service.

“I salute you,” Beall said.

State Rep. Helen Miller, D-Fort Dodge, is no stranger to life around military service. Her husband, the late Dr. Ed Miller, served in the Air Force for 30 years.

“I went everywhere he went for 30 years,” she said. “I have a very deep appreciation for what it is our veterans are doing.”

She glanced toward an empty seat in the front row of chairs.

“If Ed were here today,” she began, “he would be sitting up front wearing his favorite T-shirt – the one that said ‘All gave some and some gave all.'”

Dan Lewandowski, director of the Webster County Veteran Affairs Commission, spoke about the reasons why he joined and served for 30 years.

“It gave me a sense of pride, honor and direction,” he said.

The display, which is sponsored by his organization and Shimkat Motors, will be on display during business hours at the Crossroads Mall until April 27.

Two veterans from the area – Nathan R. Field, of Lehigh, who was killed on Jan. 7, 2006, in a vehicle accident in Iraq and Jon E. Bonnell Jr., of Fort Dodge, who was killed on Aug. 6, 2007, by a roadside bomb in Iraq – are featured among the Iowa veterans in the display.