Memorial Day in Des Moines, 2009, part 3

by James on May 25, 2009

President Obama asked all Americans recently to make an extra effort to honor our veterans this Memorial Day. While I have many reasons and many relatives that always make me think about veterans and service on Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Obama’s invitation prompted me to go to the Memorial Day Program at Veterans Memorial Auditorium. It was a good decision.

There were veterans, young and old, many decorated (including the 8% who are women). They came from every branch of the military and stood in turn while a band played the song of each branch

In the photo above you can see Representative and Vietnam veteran Leonard Boswell; keynote speaker, Iowan, Vietnam veteran and ex-POW, now retired Lt. Cmdr. Larry Spencer, and Vietnam Veteran Marty Cardines of Des Moines, all standing in front of Patrick J. Palmersheim, Executive Director of the Iowa Department of Veteran Affairs. and 1st Lt. Martha Kester, a Chaplain in the Iowa Army National Guard (seated). Cardines (shown below and left) received medals for service and exceptional courage in Vietnam. His actions in Vietnam were exemplary, but his records were not carefully kept. It has taken decades for the bureaucracy to catch up, but catch up it did, and everyone present was honored to be part of the recognition ceremony.

Near the end of the ceremony National Guard member, Edwin Gonzalez (whose photo is shown below), a native of Honduras, was sworn in as a U. S. citizen. He is scheduled to be deployed overseas within two months. He was happy and proud.

Me too.


Retired Lt. Cmdr. Spencer, a Navy veteran of the Vietnam War and ex-POW offered comments with grace and humor, understating the difficulties he experienced as a prisoner of war. He emphasized the importance of communication, of community in the home and in the service, and of the joy of being part of Iowa and the Midwest. He closed by saying that any day that you wake up, look at the door to your bedroom, and find a knob on the inside, you know it is going to be a good day.

photos by James G. Lindberg

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

James May 28, 2009 at 4:34 pm

Dear Mr. Lindberg,

The reason I’m writing is because of your article, “Memorial Day in DeMoines, 2009, part 3;” specifically, regarding Retired Lt. Cmdr. Larry Spencer. Yesterday, I was getting dressed for work after the Memorial Day weekend, which involved returning to my hometown in Oklahoma and decorating graves of family members, anyway, I couldn’t find the bangle bracelet I usually wear, so I grabbed a bracelet from the dresser. It happened to be a POW/MIA bracelet, inscribed with “Lt. LARRY SPENCER 2-18-66.” I thought even though Memorial Day had passed, I would wear it in honor of Lt. Spencer. I can’t remember where or when I purchased the bracelet, and I don’t know if I ever searched for his name on the internet – well, this time I did and there was your article. I was very happy to hear that Retired Lt. Cmdr. Spencer finally received recognition for his service to our country. The closing words of his speech – “any day that you wake up, look at the door to your bedroom, and find a knob on the inside, you know it is going to be a good day” – WOW – how profound – that really touched my heart . I just had to write you. I don’t know if he would be interested in this bracelet or if he already has several, but if he would like it, I would be happy to send it to you for him, so that you can convey my gratitude for his service to our country.

Regards,
Trish Carter
Houston, TX

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