Independence breaks ground on Veterans' Memorial

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KCRG) - People in Independence gathered Sunday for a Veteran's Day ceremony that included a ground breaking for a new memorial to veterans.

It's called "Operation 11th Hour." It's a project years in the making. The memorial aims to honor hundreds of veterans from Buchanan County, serving in all branches of the military.

"When you're down range, it doesn't matter what the color your uniform is," said Colonel Danial Higgins. "You do get a bond and you shared an experience."

For a fee, people can get an engraved paver placed at the memorial site. One of the main organizers is Vietnam Veteran Roger Allen. He said the reason the area pushed for the memorial was simple, it didn't have one. He said the high-traffic location, in front of the courthouse, is a perfect fit.

"It couldn't be any better," said Allen. "We have the Statue of Liberty, we have a flag pole, it worked out really nice."

Higgins was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. He recalled coming back home after years of service all over the world, including in Desert Storm. Higgins reminded those in attendance returning from war is never guaranteed.

"For something like this, when I was fortunate enough to come home, some were not," said Higgins. "We owe them the remembrance and the reflection of their sacrifice."

"Here I am today. We've seen some bad things," said Allen. "It's something we normally don't like to talk about really but if people ask, we will."

Construction will begin in the Spring. Allen hopes the memorial will be done by the Fourth of July.