The July 4th holiday has even more significance this year in West Burlington as a new memorial to local military veterans will be dedicated. The Mississippi Valley Veterans Memorial is a 92' long wall of grey granite with an eagle perched on top.
Within the wall are large panels of black granite etched with artistic renderings honoring each branch of the military.
John Brown serves on the planning committee for the memorial. He said on the back side of those panels are the names of 1700+ veterans, with plenty of room to honor more.
"We have to keep history going for veterans," said Brown, "for what they've done and what they've given to their country and this does that."
Brown said the idea for the memorial came about after a few local veterans took a trip to Keokuk about five years ago. While in town, they toured the National Cemetery and saw the city's veterans memorial, which was relatively new at the time.
"We sit once a week and have coffee," said Brown, "and we said, 'that's a great memorial they have in Keokuk, why doesn't (this area) have one.'"
That conversation led to the formation of a committee to lead the effort to build a memorial.
Brown said his committee has raised more than $700,000 in pledges and in-kind donations for the memorial. Fundraising will continue, though, to make the final payments for the memorial and for future upkeep and expansion.
The dedication ceremony will get underway at 1:00 P.M. on Saturday, July 4th. The memorial is located at 405 W. Division Street in West Burlington, across the street from the RecPlex, which will offer parking for the event.
Brown said the ceremony will include several speakers including U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-Iowa). He said people in attendance are encouraged to bring lawn chairs.
"I am so pleased and so proud to be a part of it and to have played a role in it. It's really been a dream come true and everybody that's on the committee feels the same way."