Expansive Eastern Iowa Monument Honors Veterans
Before a lengthy career at Hy-Vee, Jim Keller served a tour of duty in Vietnam. Decades later, Keller read a book by Gerald Coffee who was an American Prisoner of War (P.O.W.) in Vietnam. The book, 'Beyond Survival: Building on the Hard Times', compelled Keller to write Coffee a letter. That led to a face-to-face meeting where Coffee introduced himself to Keller in a unique way. Keller remembers the moment well. He told WHO-TV Coffee said, "Thank you for your service and welcome home soldier." Keller says that was the first time anyone had said that to him in more than three decades. That meeting led to an amazing seven-acre Iowa monument to veterans, and the monument's name.
The 'Welcome Home Soldier' monument, at 6451 Highway 34 in Albia, includes a number of incredible monuments and statues. There are 100 American flags flying proudly from a hillside, there's a P.O.W. plaza, a replica monument of the flag-raising at Iwo Jima, 21 crosses that symbolize the 21 gun salute, and much more. There's even a statue of a Civil War soldier with a bugle to his mouth. Each morning at 8, the statue plays 'Reveille.' At 5 p.m. daily, 'Taps' can be heard.
The huge monument is open 24 hours a day, and as you'll see in some of the photos at the bottom, it's lit at night. The 'Welcome Home Soldier' monument continues to grow. Up next are monuments honoring Korean War veterans and one that will salute women who have served in the U.S. military.
This video is from Memorial Day 2020.
Many people recommend seeing the monument at sunrise, or sunset.
You can see the WHO-TV story below. More photos from the monument are below the video.