Vets know: Nazis not ‘fine’ folks

Vets know: Nazis not ‘fine’ folks

Gazette Column
As a cub reporter, I was sent to interview World War II veterans. The interviews were going well, but there was one veteran — an older man in a wheelchair — not really participating. I tried to reel him into the conversation. He resisted. Other veterans began to goad the man, telling me that he and his troop were some of the first to enter a German concentration camp. “People need to know,” one man urged. As the interview wrapped up and the men began to leave, I shifted to sit beside the veteran in the wheelchair. “Is what the others said true?” I asked. “Were you one of the first Americans to enter a concentration camp?” The man nodded and met my gaze. I could tell he was hesitant…
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On the road to Philly: Pasquale Luz

On the road to Philly: Pasquale Luz

Gazette Column
One man proudly representing generations of immigrants Family photos tell the story of just how many of Pasquale Luz’s 24 years have been spent in politics as well as how important it has been for his family, descendants of immigrants, to let their voices be heard. Currently a resident of Dubuque, Luz grew up in Chicago where his mother, grandmothers and aunt were very involved with the National Organization for Women. “As far as I can remember, I’ve always been involved and attending political rallies,” Luz said. “My mom has a picture of us marching on Washington, D.C. before I could actually march. I was carried along the route.” When he was older, Luz worked on political campaigns and for the local Democratic Party going door-to-door and making phone calls.…
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The circus comes to Cleveland

The circus comes to Cleveland

Gazette Column
Perhaps Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter said it best: “Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.” Members of the Republican Party are on their way to Cleveland, where they will — despite movements to the contrary — choose Donald Trump as their nominee. Let that sink in. The Republican Party will choose a man who, as recently as March 2012, wasn’t registered as a Republican. There is plenty more than can and has been written about Trump — from talk of small hands to racial and gender slurs to, worst of all, far too few policy positions. But his rejoining the GOP, ending more than a decade of party hopping, is significant. Don’t get me wrong: I understand his vexation. After all, I am a…
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Use actions to thank veterans

Use actions to thank veterans

Gazette Column
Not only is it important this Memorial Day to honor fallen veterans, we should offer more than words to those still living. Last year was the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, our country’s bloodiest conflict. Roughly 500,000 Union and Confederate soldiers died, says the U.S. Department of Defense. Yet born of that grief was Decoration Day, now known as Memorial Day. We set the day aside to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. Families and volunteers honor the fallen by cleaning and decorating their graves, marking them with flags. But even as we pause to remember, we must acknowledge that a single day of ceremony isn’t enough. On Memorial Day and throughout the rest of the year, the dead — and the families they…
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Community, family remembers Iowa WWII soldier

Community, family remembers Iowa WWII soldier

Gazette Column
Distant relatives alerted to WWII soldier grave by newspaper article Cousins Art Tellin and Linda Burns had no idea that their distant relative who gave his life during the D-Day invasion of World War II was buried in Cedar Memorial Cemetery without a proper headstone. They were also unaware of the unusual circumstances that led to the discovery, and how veterans and their advocates came together to set things right. “Linda reads the paper — I mean she really reads the paper, very closely,” Tellin said. “She read the article you wrote and then immediately called me to say, ‘I think they are talking about our family.’” Tellin, a resident of Solon, and Burns, who lives in North Liberty, are distant relatives of Sgt. Leonard L. Kelly. The Army mechanic…
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Transit blog, day three

Transit blog, day three

Gazette Blog
Who are the people in your neighborhood? Remember yesterday when I warned that today’s transit blog installment might arrive a little late? Even I didn’t expect it would be quite this late, but today was busy and fruitful. This morning I had the pleasure of visiting with other transit riders while waiting on and riding the city bus. “I love the bus,” Marion resident Ann Roberts told me while we rested on a bench at the Marion Square bus stop. She lives on 35th Street, just down the road from the Marion Hy-Vee, and has been a part of the community for two years, having moved here from the Quad Cities. At age 67 — “soon to be 68" — Ann has never had a driver’s license, and relies on…
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Dutchman cares for overseas grave of Iowa WWII soldier

Dutchman cares for overseas grave of Iowa WWII soldier

Gazette Column
Local genealogists connect European caretaker with soldier's descendant Just when a prolonged and extreme political season seemed to signal an end of civility, an unassuming man in the Netherlands has renewed my faith in humanity. Pat Wilkinson, head of research for the Genealogical Society of Linn County, received an odd message from Western Europe about a year ago. “At our research library, we are frequently called upon to track backward in time — from a person living today to their ancestors,” Wilkinson explained. “But it is not often we are called track someone forward in time, and find living descendants.” [caption id="attachment_781" align="alignright" width="300"] Netherlands resident Robby Prinsen decorates the grave of Cedar Rapids native and World War II veteran Robert A. Hasley at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in…
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Veteran who died at Normandy finally honored

Veteran who died at Normandy finally honored

Featured, Gazette Column
No one knows exactly how many veterans are buried in cemeteries in the Corridor without headstones or other markers of their sacrifice. On this day, however, we know there is one less. Leonard L. Kelly, area veterans believe, may be the only Cedar Rapidian to receive mortal wounds on the beaches of Normandy during the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of World War II. He suffered for two weeks before dying, according to War Department communication with his family. It took another five years before his body was returned to Iowa and subsequently buried in Cedar Memorial Cemetery. What happened afterward is mostly a mystery. [caption id="attachment_775" align="alignright" width="300"] Elmer P. Kelly, brother to World War II Sgt. Leonard L. Kelly, made application for a military headstone or marker in…
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Sarah Palin embarrassed herself, again

Sarah Palin embarrassed herself, again

Gazette Column
There’s something terribly sordid about schilling for the guy that diminished the distinguished military career of your former presidential running mate. Even worse is accepting an endorsement from someone who will trot out your closet’s skeletons in hope of hiding her own. “He is not a war hero,” Donald Trump said of U.S. Sen. John McCain last year at the Family Leadership Summit in Ames before he received push back from the program’s host. “I like people that weren’t captured, OK? I hate to tell you. He is a war hero because he was captured. OK, you can have — I believe perhaps he is a war hero.” And now the person selected by McCain as his presidential running mate, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has endorsed Trump, claiming both…
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Let’s remember, mourn all changed by Vietnam

Let’s remember, mourn all changed by Vietnam

Gazette Column
No matter how personal or distant the connection, it’s difficult to reconcile emotions surrounding the Vietnam War. Several readers, many of them veterans and friends, reached out to me after reading a series of articles by B.A. Morelli published last month in The Gazette. The articles revisit the decision by a then-20-year-old Marion man, Steve Smith, to violate federal law and burn his draft card in a brief but very public display on Oct. 20, 1965. Reaction to these pieces in which some of those interviewed call for a memorial or some other public acknowledgment of Smith’s action has been predominantly outrage, confusion and disappointment. “I lost friends in Vietnam,” one man said, “and I still haven’t stood before their names on the national memorial. And now someone wants to…
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