Editorial: For the sake of names on the wall
Op-Ed · November 09, 2012

Donít attend the Appreciation Park dedication because Norm and Pat Bickford and Phyllis Sondergard spent five years working on it. Attend because of the names on the wall.

Definitely thank the trio for working so hard, overcoming obstacles, finding partners ó like Main Street West Branch and the American Legion ó and raising money to get the $65,000 park built.

But remember why they did it ó because of the names on the wall.

When the stones are placed at the back of the park, likely later this week, they will show the names of 320 men and women who put their lives at risk, some of whom died doing so, so that the rest of us could bask in freedom.

We just finished another presidential election. And there were a lot of nasty comments and dirty politics and hard feelings and offensive suggestions. But we will gladly embrace those negatives if it means we can have the positives as well ó asking the hard questions, sharing the good information, reading the open records, arguing for high standards, participating in grassroots campaigning and the one-on-one conversations that flesh out both the candidates and the issues. Anyone paying attention and doing a bit of their own research can say they knew full well what they were getting into when they parted the curtains on the voting booth.

Because of the names on the wall.

We hope that everyone voted, though we know that not everyone will. We really like the saying that if you donít vote, donít complain. Yet there may be legitimate circumstances that keep someone from the polls, or it may not be until after an election that a taxpayer or homeowner or stay-at-home mother finds that spark that thrusts them into a deep concern over the way things are done in Washington, or Des Moines, or on Poplar Street ó that is, our City Hall. And at that moment, they find a reason to complain, to act. And who knows how a single person with the right motivation could change our city, state or nation?

The opportunity is there, because of the names on the wall.

Our freedoms in America are so fantastic, and so abundant that we tend to devalue them. When the Hoover National Historic Site hosts a naturalization ceremony every year, dozens of people from all over the world come and pledge to be a part of this country because they are in awe of the freedoms we have. And they are flabbergasted if we should take them for granted.

Especially because the people behind those names on the wall gave so much.

The 2 p.m. Nov. 11 dedication is a Sunday afternoon. Not much else is going on at that time, and few things will be more important. Main Street will be blocked off so chairs can be set out in hopes of a big crowd.

For the names on the wall.

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