Group gathers for Veterans Day

BY IAN SMITH | NOVEMBER 12, 2010 7:20 AM

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Around 75 Iowans solemnly rang a heavy cast-iron bell in honor of those lost in Amerca's wars, while more than a dozen others held signs protesting the costs of current U.S. engagements.

The group gathered in front of the Old Capitol on Clinton Street on Thursday in light of Veterans Day, marking the first evebt for Chapter 161 of Veterans for Peace.

Eighty-year-old Thomas Baldridge, a veteran of the Korean War, read aloud a list of fallen soldiers and civilians in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It was a very partial list," Baldridge said. "Collateral damage. Isn't that what they call it?"

Ed Flaherty, the president of the Iowa chapter, said prior to today, the group had been unofficial.

Though the individuals have held meetings every Friday at the intersection of Clinton and Washington Streets for about six years, they hadn't organized a chapter until now.

"You know, you have to do it when people are ready," Flaherty said.

He said he thinks with a number of Iowans in the conflict zones, concerns should be higher.

Iowan Sue Travis, who heard of the event from Flaherty, said she thought there was a really good turnout.

"[We are] hoping to make people aware that this is Veterans Day, and we still are at war," Travis said.

Veterans for Peace is a national organization founded 25 years ago that focuses on "exposing the costs of war," according to its website.

Flaherty said the "costs" include human life, economic, and foreign policy.

Allan Chase, an 81-year-old Korean War veteran, said the organization gives him something to do that holds more meaning than the efforts of a single person.

"If veterans stay together and really organize, they could do something," he said.

Ingrid Hill said she was moved by a sign one woman held that read "How is the war economy for you?" She said she thought money spent on the war would be far better served going toward education.

"I don't think people realize the amount of money that's going into the war," Hill said.

The assembly ended with a few somber moments of silence and a trumpeter playing "Taps."

Veterans Day, formerly named Armistice Day, was created to commemorate the signing of an armistice between the Allies and Germany that ended fighting on the Western Front of World War I, "the war to end all wars."

But because the United States is at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, John Jadryev, a 69-year-old Vietnam veteran, said their efforts are even more broad.

"To transfer [Veterans Day] to a remembrance of all victims of war," he said.

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