Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 19, 2018

Salem gets it done

Large crowd attends veterans memorial dedication
Jul 24, 2017
Photo by: Brooks Taylor It took just over a year for Salem organizers to raise the money, erect and dedicate its veterans memorial. Here, some people tour the memorial before Saturday’s dedication ceremony.

By Brooks Taylor, Mt. Pleasant News


SALEM — Col. (ret.) Pat Coen saluted his hometown of Salem Saturday.

Keynoting the dedication of the Salem Veterans Memorial, the Bronze Star recipient said he knew Salem would succeed with its monument.

“One of the fundamental beliefs of our country is to get it done,” Coen said. “I was asked by a member of the media today if I was surprised Salem could raise the money for this and I said no. I know Salem would do it.”

And Salem did it in just over a year, beginning the campaign in early 2016.

Jim Onorato, one of the committee members and master of ceremonies for Saturday’s event, said 66 businesses and 153 individuals contributed to the monument and five bequeaths were received. “Salem is not about one entity but about everyone,” he said. “The project was a pleasure to work on by all committee members. The area greatly funded this monument.”

One of the big donors was Murphy Funeral Home and Monuments of Mt. Pleasant which donated the cost of the inscriptions on the monument.

Coen, who formerly was an instructor in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District before becoming superintendent of the Winfield-Mt. Union and WACO School districts and is now superintendent of the Burlington Community School District, told several hundred people gathered at the Salem Congregational Church, that some of the most valuable lessons he learned were during his youth in Salem. “The work ethic I learned in Salem, Iowa, has helped me throughout life.

“I am deeply honored and humbled to be standing before you today,” he added. “The privilege of being asked to speak today using the dedication of this most respectful and honorable memorial is not lost on me.

“I fully realize that this memorial is much more than mere stone and engravings. This memorial represents portions of the lives of the men and women who have served our great country in uniformed service. This memorial is to assure that we as a collective society, remember the brave men and women who came before us. Every name inscribed on it is flesh and blood.”

Those on the monument answered the call, Coen noted. “We need warriors and we have to do it. When our country calls, warriors have to step up and this monument is filled with the names who stepped up.”

Secondly, military service, Coen explained is a selfless act. “Not one name on there thought it was about them. The mission is not about you but selfless service. We have a better and stronger nation due to selfless service.

“The names on the monument are because of the character of those who stepped up,” Coen continued. “Those men and women sacrificed. Husbands and wives left their families. It was selfless commitment to a greater good. You may suffer but it is to a greater good. The monument is full of people who embraced pain and discomfort for others.”

In closing he exhorted those in the crowd “to be someone’s hero. They need you.”

Onorato admitted that building the monument was quite an undertaking. “We felt it was important to honor all our veterans — past and present. There were a lot of people involved in building that memorial.”

Committee members in addition to Onorato included Gene Stewart, Bill Wixom Jr., Jim Dean, Pam Stewart and honorary committee member Rosie Kramer.



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