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Locals remember peace as well as veterans

BY LAUREN COFFEY | NOVEMBER 12, 2012 6:30 AM

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Bells chimed all over the country as American flags waved proudly against the ominous gray sky.

Each year on Nov. 11, veterans are remembered for their service. However, some officials say Veterans Day, or Armistice Day, as it was originally called, has more depth than that.

"I'm sure some veterans appreciate having restaurants giving them free meals," said Paul Deaton, the secretary and treasurer for the Iowa City branch of Veterans for Peace. "But I think people need to think about what's needed, of the consequences of the [veterans'] service instead of someone saying thank you."

Armistice Day is held in honor of the armistice signed during World War I to end fighting on the Western Front between the Allies and Germany.

"We celebrate today, Nov. 11, as Armistice Day to remember," said Ed Flaherty, the president of the Iowa City branch of Veterans for Peace. "It's a remembrance day. Twenty-nine million soldiers were killed in WWI, and that was absolutely horrific. We need to recognize the horrors of war, but that isn't enough. Obviously, it isn't enough, because WWI didn't prevent another war from happening."

Various remembrance ceremonies were held throughout the area. Veterans for Peace organized an Iowa City event in which a bell rang 11 times in remembrance on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.

Officials said it is important to preserve older veterans' stories.

"WWII veterans, Korean War veterans, are dying, Vietnam War veterans are dying much earlier than they should," Flaherty said. "Everyone needs to hear them speak."

Officials hope that speaking out about their time in war will help educate the public on the true experience of being a veteran.

"I think the public's appreciation of veterans has increased since the Vietnam War," Flaherty said. "Respect is given without the understanding of what veterans do. They come back with horrific rates of suicide, PTSD."

One veteran says Iowa City resources have helped others cope with the challenges that can occur in the aftermath of war.

"The University of Iowa does a great job providing a support system," said Gregory Touzani, University of Iowa Veterans Association president. "There's a social awkwardness when you come back from active duty. You're used to being surrounded by people in uniform and being in the majority, and then you come here and are surrounded by 18- to 22-year-olds who don't really understand."

Overall, veterans hope to help the community comprehend their situations after coming home from war.

"Being a veteran is just as complex as any community member," Deaton said. "People don't understand what it's like to be of service to the community."


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