Veterans Day was more than a mark on the calendar this year. It was evident in ceremonies from New York City to Albert City. There was a different tone - a little more somber and a little more serious.
The difference was apparent in patriotic ceremonies yesterday at St. Mary's School in Storm Lake and at the Albert City-Truesdale school. Both welcomed police officers and firefighters, and recognized them for what they do.
"It's obvious, after September 11, how important they are," said St. Mary's Principal Rose Davis.
While the county historical society held its annual soup and pie luncheon on Sunday, students at Buena Vista University gathered for a "Rally for America," one of over 600 held at college campuses in the country.
All of the ceremonies were closely connected to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Pennsylvania.
World War II veteran Edward Kelly spoke at St. Mary's about his experiences as a navigator on board a B-24 Liberator. "I planned to be a pilot, but they needed more navigators than they did pilots, so I was fair game," he joked.
Kelly flew in over 50 combat missions throughout Europe, and was stationed in Italy starting in 1944.
"I have seen more places in Europe than I ever want to remember, but Vienna, Austria, is the spot that topped them all," said Kelly. "The Germans defended that place as if it were the heart of the Reich, and we faced more flak there than at any other target."
All of his sons are a source of pride, Kelly said, and one followed his footsteps and joined the Air Force.
At BVU, Bill Salier talked with students about the meaning of freedom and the need to defend every American's civil liberties. Salier is a Republican candidate for Senate and a former Marine. He currently farms near Mason City.
Salier said the country has an "incessant need for freedom."
"But we are still seeking that freedom," he added. "There's always someone wanting to try and test your freedom - there is always an 'ism' that wants to take you down."
The College Republicans also honored three local World War II and Korean War veterans - Darwin Lussman, John Oatman and Frank Mittelstadt. The three AmVets members also conducted a flag-folding ceremony at the historical society lunch.
"They are a past generation, yet we are all part of that connected piece of freedom," Salier said of the vets.
Nov. 11 marked two months since terrorist attacks completely changed a nation. Since then, Salier said he has seen patriotism and the American spirit alive throughout Iowa.
"The greatest days of this nation lie ahead of us, not behind us," he said, adding that the country must continue to fight for its freedom.
"We will never give up freedom willingly, and we will fight jealously to maintain it," he said.
BVU student and chairman of the College Republicans Cody Katzer said the reason the students gathered was to honor veterans and current armed forces personnel.
"We are honoring veterans today because they are why we have a Bill of Rights and our Constitution," Katzer said.
Veterans have faced challenges in the past, and current service men and women will again face that test, he said.
"Again, on Sept. 11, we were tested," Katzer said. "But, like in the past, the country has stood steadfast."
He asked the students to support American troops at home and overseas.
"They're fighting for what we have today," he said. "We can go to school, we can have a capitalistic economy, we can have a free marketplace of ideas because of them."