Dubuque Street Armory Memorial dedicated to America's veterans


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On a cold, cloudy morning, hundreds of people gathered outside the Johnson County Administration Building for a military ceremony. Veterans held flags representing their regiment, the state, and the United States, while a series of speakers honored the nation’s armed forces and spoke about Iowa City military history.

The ceremony was a dedication of the new Dubuque Street Armory Memorial. The event focused on speeches given by retired Maj.-Gen. Robert Sentman, Gary Boseneiler, the director of the Johnson County Commission on Veterans Affairs, and Iowa City Mayor Matt Hayek.

“This is a great turnout,” Boseneiler said in describing the audience.

There were a number of Iowa politicians in attendance, including Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, and Rep. Sally Stutsman, D-Riverside.

The memorial served two purposes, Sentman said. The first was to commemorate the Johnson County Armory, which was built in 1937 but demolished after being heavily damaged in the flood of 2008. The second, he said, was to honor “all the men and women who have worn a U.S. military uniform, in the past, present, and future.”

Hayek, in his speech, described the history of the U.S. 113th Cavalry, whose horses were once stabled in the Armory. Before it was destroyed in 2008, the Armory was the last armory in the nation that still had horse stables in it.

Sentman went on to tell the stories of some of the men who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Particularly, he described the six Iowa City soldiers who died after landing in Normandy on D-Day. Their battalion fought all the way across northern France and Germany, finally meeting their Russian allies at the end of the war in the European theater.

More than 460 Iowa City citizens have died in military operations since the Civil War, Sentman said.

Beyond these speeches, there was also the posting of the colors by the Iowa National Guard and the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Troop 212 of the Boy Scouts of America. Attendees of the ceremony joined Wayne Neuzil, opera singer and University of Iowa graduate, in singing both the national anthem and “God Bless America.”

Boseneiler said the memorial cost $28,000 and was funded by a combination of I-JOBS grant money and private donations. I-JOBS is a state investment initiative started in 2009 under former Gov. Chet Culver. Funding also came from bricks leading up to the memorial, engraved with the names of soldiers and families, which were sold $75 each.

“This is a great piece of local history to be a part of,” Boseneiler said. “I think veterans can look at this and be proud.”

Stutsman agreed that the memorial was a good way to honor veterans.

“This memorial is a great way to commemorate the Armory, as well as everyone in the armed services,” she said. “It really is beautiful, too.”

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