Tag Archives: veterans

Celebrating Memorial Day in Siouxland, Le Mars

12 Jun
DAVE OTT, foreground, and other American Legion Wasmer Post 241 Honor Guard members fire a 21 gun salute as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A member of the Armed Forces salutes during the presentation of the Colors as he and area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

There are a number of places one can celebrate Memorial Day in Siouxland, remembering those who have and are serving along with loved ones who have passed on to a better place.

I always enjoy the ceremony in Le Mars, where this year another 40 some flags were added to the Avenue of Flags that dot the Plymouth County Courthouse lawn and this year the boulevards across the street. At one point in the program all of the names belonging to those flags that family members have donated are read. This year that number totaled over 1,400 names.

Dennis Britt’s wife, Joyce, and family donated a flag in his honor at the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
ROCKY BUNJES, of Le Mars, IA, and American Legion Wasmer Post 241 member served in the Army during the Vietnam war. Area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Dog tags hang from each flag as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Not as many people attended this year as I have seen in the past. That is understandable. There is still residual dealings with the ongoing pandemic, while circumstances are getting better, a success over this health issue doesn’t seem to be here yet. But those that did attend found a nice day, with moderate temperature and light breeze that made celebrating a bit more joyous that a rainy, overcast and more somber type of day.

Family members and area residents attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Flags flutter from a breeze as area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Next yearI will probably visit another community during its remembrance. Sad in a way that so many remembrances are held, but good that people take the time out of a “holiday” to remember those who served their country and embraced a challenge when one arose.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

ISAAC JOHNSON of Le Mars, IA, reads a dog tag looking for the flag of his grandfather Jerry Johnson as he and other area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Area residents and community members attend the Avenue of Flags Memorial Day program at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars, Iowa Monday, May 31, 2021 hosted by the city of Le Mars and American Legion Wasmer Post 241. There are currently 1,428 flags posted for the day of celebration and remembrance, all donated by family members of those area and local residents who served in the armed forces, living and deceased. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Pondering History in Siouxland, Grant Cemetery, rural Monona County

20 Dec
A number of the buried listed are soldiers who fought during the Civil War both in the infantry and in the cavalry located in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Driving about a bit recently in Siouxland I came across a sign for a Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County. Signage I have previously passed by but never stopped. This time I did.

A gravel road leading to Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I like walking around older, remote cemeteries. Maybe not remote to the residents living in the area, but for someone who lives in a town miles away this last resting place is tucked away on a hilltop and a refuge from the hustling and bustling of modern day life.

Located on a hillside the surrounding farmland must have looked much different when settlers first arrived in this part of western Iowa seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The entrance off of a gravel road to the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Grant Cemetery is now home to 24 veterans of the Civil War, and one from the Spanish American War. There are also veterans of the WWI, WWII, the Korean War and the Vietnam war. The listing of the Civil War veterans include infantry and cavalry soldiers. It was quiet, with just a few birds making noise at this cemetery amongst the fields in the area. I can’t really imagine what the area might have looked like to early settlers who arrived when the land was still prairie.

A gravesite of an Iowa volunteer cavalry soldier who most likely fought during the Civil War and is buried at Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
A headstone of a soldier who served during WWI buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
Early settler buried at the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

A peaceful place to pass the time until Revelations reckoning. There were a number of animal prints in the fresh snow and evidence of deer, rabbit and what looked like large cat paw prints, possibly a bobcat. Places like this cemetery make me curious about these settlers’ lives, where they came from to start here again. And maybe after arriving and getting started in a new life being called away to fight a war against fellow Americans.

What appears to be a cluster of possible family members all buried close to one another near the base of a tree in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)
The sun sets on an overcast day seen from Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Like so many folk who have passed, people’s stories are lost to time, maybe even to descendants as that kind of history seems missing in today’s modern world, compared to other cultures. It’s still a place to bury loved ones but a remote place with forgotten souls who arrived in a new to make a new life that is now centuries old. Until someone stops by, walks about a bit and ponders what life must have been like for someone looking for a new place to live.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Early settlers are buried in the Grant Cemetery in rural Monona County, Iowa Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. (photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

Honoring those who gave all in Siouxland, Little Sioux

27 Apr

Flags flapping at the American Legion Post 410 in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

When passing through various small communities in the Siouxland region one can almost always find a memorial to community members who joined the military and paid the ultimate sacrifice during war. I recently came upon American Legion Post 141 in Little Siouxand it had created a tribute to those people from the immediate area who served their country.

The American Legion Post 410 has seen many years of service in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

A figurine in the window of the American Legion Post 410 in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

I found interesting at this particular memoriam that mention was made of people serving in Grenada and also the Spanish-American and the Mexican war. One doesn’t always find that tribute to soldiers who fought in those campaigns.

Not all war in memoriams contain names of those who fought in the Spanish American War seen in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

Names from the community of those who fought in the Mexican War, as well as at Grenada area found in memoriam in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

These salutes to those braves souls find more attention in small towns I believe because there are fewer people there to actually serve as compared to a larger city. And the loss of someone that probably everyone knew while no greater than those from larger towns becomes more impactful in a smaller community. It will also be interesting to see these salutes thrive as the dynamics between the rural and city communities continues with more people leaving smaller ones to find jobs and opportunity in larger ones.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

An in memoriam with names of those who served sits next to the American Legion Post 410 in Little Sioux City, Iowa Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Photo by Jerry L Mennenga©)

 

 

A small Siouxland community that gave a lot, Castana

27 Oct

 

While out driving around the Siouxland area in the Loess Hills region of Northwest Iowa, I passed through the small community of Castana, which in its heyday, like a lot of other now smaller Iowa communities, was bustling when first settled.

The Monona County Economic Development website lists this information: ” Population 147, Castana was platted on July 24, 1886.  When a branch of Chicago Northwestern Railway connected Castana traders with the latest goods and services.  Castana was named by the founder, for what he believed to be the Latin word for chestnuts. “Geocaching” fans will find Castana at a latitude of 42.074N and  longitude -95.908  Castana is loaded with attractions and recreation areas.  Western Iowa Experimental Farm near Castana was established in 1946 for the development of agriculture in the Loess Hills.  Loess Hills Wildlife Area and Sylvan Runkel Preserve is the location of the annual Loess Hills Prairie Seminar.  Composed of approximately 3000 acres of native prairie and woodland area it offers the best hiking, bird watching, and primitive camping. The Loess Hills Ranch & Winery is located at the Timber Ridge Recreation area in rural Castana.
Castana City Hall, 103 Pine St., Castana, Iowa 51010,Phone: 712-353-6747.

 

The City of Castana has this information on its website: “In the summer of 1866 A. G. Hammond of Hartford, Conn., purchased two hundred acres of land, on sections 23 & 24 of James M. Kelsey, and engaged J. B. P. Day to build a store building and a hotel the following spring. However, during the winter Mr. Hammond died and Messrs. Day & Co. (F. A. & J. B. P.) purchased the land and lumber, and during the summer of 1867 built the store and dwelling combined which was the Old Castana headquarters. The building was completed by July 4, and a big crowd gathered there… A first-class violinist traveling west in company with S.C. Hoadley could play any tune and the party held out until morning.  The Castana post office was established September 11, 1865, with A. J. Hathaway as Postmaster. It was moved to the store in 1867 and F. L. Day appointed Postmaster, who was succeeded in 1869 by F. A. Day. In 1872 there were the following businesses in Old Castana; a blacksmith shop, two stores, and an agricultural implement depot of Penn Bros. & Co. Also mentioned is a Methodist parsonage with Hathaway’s mill close by.  The first baseball club was organized here by Geo. W. Penn in 1872. On July 4, 1873 the “Grange” had a big gathering here. A six-pound cannon was brought for the occasion and the day opened big with a heavy shower about 1 O’clock and broke up the meeting.  In connection with the A. G. Hammond purchase, the American Emigrant Company had made a donation to the county of $2,000 for school purposes and the board of supervisors selected the bench on section 23, as a site for an academy. The movement at this point awoke the jealousy of parties interested in Belvidere and other points and the result was the abandonment of the whole matter and the funds diverted to other projects.  Castana is one of Monona County’s most enterprising towns, located near the center of the county in Kennebec Township, on land purchased by the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad Company by the Western Town Lot Company in the early summer of 1886, the survey being completed by July 15, the deed of dedication and the platt bearing the date of July 24, and filed for record July 29, 1886. The town is a distance of about 12 miles from Onawa, the county seat, and about 50 miles from Sioux City, the nearest jobbing point.  The first building erected was the warehouse of Day & Co., just back of their store. This was put up in July, 1886. It is located on the rear of lot 1, block 6, and was put up by J. B. P. Day. The railroad track was laid past the depot grounds April 12.

It was a little after lunch and so I pulled into a park area to eat something I had packed. At the park is a war memorial. A wooden wall held in place by two by fours planted into the ground behind it. A former archway into a local bank (there are no banks there now) sets the memorial off with its marble columns and brick walls. The memorial wall lists all service people killed beginning with the Civil War, and through the Gulf War. There are a lot of names, too many names for a place this size to have sacrificed so many of its sons. I didn’t see anyone there that day so didn’t get a chance to ask questions about the memorial. But however plain it might appear, the long list of names tells a very humbling story.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

 

 

Siouxland rain and thunder show

30 Jun

Today it again rained like crazy with tornado watches and severe thunderstorm warnings in the Siouxland area of Nebraska, South Dakota and Iowa. I haven’t heard the official or even an unofficial report of fallen rain, but it poured most of the morning so 4-5 inches would be a conservative guess. I came across four gentlemen seeking shelter from the storm, as it were, literally, under the awning of a Hy Vee food store gas station. The four are members of the Illinois Chapter of the Rolling Thunder, a club created to remember those military members who are MIA or missing in action. This is the description of the club on its website: “Incorporated in 1995, Rolling ThunderÒ, Inc. is a class 501(c) (4) non-profit organization with over 90 chartered chapters throughout the United States and members abroad. While many members of Rolling Thunder®, Inc. are veterans and many ride motorcycles, neither qualification is a prerequisite. Rolling Thunder®, Inc. members are old and young, men and women, veterans and non-veterans. All are united in the cause to bring full accountability for the Prisoners Of War-Missing In Action (POW/MIA) of all wars, reminding the government, the media and the public by our watchwords: “We Will Not Forget.”

As I walked over to ask their permission to photograph them, it began pouring rain, and I took four photographs before running back to my own vehicle for shelter. I don’t know if these guys found a place to hold up for a while, but it is almost four hours later and it is still raining off and on. Up until 12 noon, thunder was reverberating all around and water running down the streets. I am sure they will find a safe journey to wherever they are going. I didn’t take the time to ask as I was drenched by the time I got back to my vehicle. But they and others help remind us of the cost of this country pursuing certain paths that may or may not prove fruitful to the country as a whole. A political discussion I sometimes have with friends. Albeit, my friends are polite, and we discuss, rather than accuse or yell at one another and the impasse of what has become our acting government. And I don’t think there are enough blogs, bloggers or other means of communication that will ever be able to complete that discussion. But hopefully as these gentlemen remind us, there are continuing discussions that need to be ongoing. Safe journey.

Jerry Mennenga

Sioux City, Iowa

Rolling Thunder Rolling Thunder

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