Respect and record

When Fred Larson gazed at the polished black wall of the Korean War Veterans Memorial recently, he came face to engraved face with the images of men who, like himself, served in the military during the early 1950s.

“They told us that those faces were all men that didn’t come back,” the Fort Dodge resident said Friday afternoon.

The sacrifices of those men and all the others who died fighting to protect the freedoms that Americans enjoy were remembered Friday when the Friendship Haven community held its Memorial Day observance.

Larson, an Army veteran, described his experiences on the May 10 Brushy Creek Area Honor Flight, which took former service members to Washington, D.C., to see the nation’s war memorials.

State Sen. Daryl Beall, D-Fort Dodge, presented special pins to the veterans who were there.

“I just want to say to our veterans, God bless you,” Beall said. “Thank you for all you do and all that you are.”

About 125 people, including veterans like Larson, filled the Tompkins Celebration Center for the event, which included patriotic songs performed by the Friendship Haven Chorus.

Larson, who said he served during the Korean War at Fort Lee, Va., said he was reluctant to go on the Honor Flight because he isn’t a combat veteran. He said his daughter encouraged him to go. He was among 109 veterans on the flight.

He said he was impressed by the “amazing amount of people” that greeted the veterans when they arrived at Dulles International Airport in the Virginia suburbs of the Capitol.

“I even got kissed three times,” Larson said.

He recounted how the veterans toured the various monuments and visited Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. He said he was amazed by the soldiers who guard the Tomb of the Unknowns.

“You have never seen precision like those men had,” he said. “Being an Army man, I thought it was the greatest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”

Beall said that during the Memorial Day holiday, people must also thank veterans “who came back less than whole” because they lost a limb or suffer from post traumatic stress disorder.

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

The senator said that, with regard to veterans, Americans must remember, respect and record.

Beall called on those in the audience to remember and respect the deeds of the veterans. He also asked them to record the stories of those veterans so that their contributions to history are not lost.