A salute to Iowa's veterans

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Alta man has dream to construct traveling exhibit for our soldiers

Don Fisher is a very proud veteran.

He was called up for duty in 1967 and spent time in Vietnam during '68-'69.

He still has bitter memories of the lack of recognition the soldiers who put their lives on the line received when they returned home from the war. As he thought about it even harder, the soldiers who returned from World War II, the Korean War and Desert Storm didn't receive recognition either.

He wants to change that - in Iowa, anyway.

In his workshop, he has constructed wooden panels - 31 1/2" wide and 48" high - that he hopes to fill up with names of veterans - living or deceased - from any war. He has carefully calculated that he can place 32 2" tall placards (and however long they need to be) containing hand painted names of the veterans on the panels. He hopes to have several panels which can be fastened together and be used as a traveling display into Iowa communities. He has even figured out that the panels will need to be raised up an additional 2' from the ground while on display so that people don't have to bend over to see the names.

For quick reference, the panels will each be numbered; an accompanying book will list each name on the panel and which panel the names may be found. The placards containing the names of deceased veterans will also contain a cross.

Fisher has put a lot of thought and his own money into the project. He is asking a mere $10 from anyone wishing to place a name on the panels. He is not out to make a profit; the money received will go for additional wood and paint and to help defray some of the gasoline costs that will be incurred while traveling with the panels to be displayed.

The woodworker has taken great care to construct the veteran memorial. Each name placard and the panels have been varnished to keep them waterproofed.

He also has a vivid picture in his mind of the display being surrounded by an American flag and a Prisoner of War flag. A sign bearing the words, "Salute to the Veterans of Iowa" will mark the display.

"I am serious as heck about this project," Fisher said, adding that he has 21 names on the panel so far. He is spreading the word through veterans publications and has introduced the idea to many veterans he knows.

"My goal is to keep this thing going. I want to see how big I can get it. All the veterans deserve a salute for the job they have done."

Fisher comes from a family of soldiers. His dad served in World War II; his brother was in the Navy during the '60s; and he has nieces, nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews who are currently serving.

"I am proud of all my nieces and nephews for what they do."

Fisher is a member of the Alta American Legion and the Alta VFW. He has held local and state offices.

He has constructed another board containing names of Buena Vista County soldiers who died in wars - World War II to Iraq. That panel is put on display during the Star Spangled Spectacular event in Storm Lake.

Fisher enjoys spending time in his workshop and knows this project is something that needs to be done.

"It's more fun to do things for people."

To get your name or the name of a loved one on the panel, contact Fisher at 200-1761 or send $10 for each name with the correct spelling of the veteran's name to:

Don Fisher

505 Johnson St.

Alta, Iowa 51002

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