FRUITLAND, Iowa–After four years of planning, fundraising, and waiting for supply chain difficulties to ease, all of the pieces for the Fruitland Community Lions to install and dedicate their All Veterans Memorial fell into place. On the warm, sunny afternoon of June 12, the Fruitland Community Lions, their guests, and members of the community gathered to celebrate the dedication and honor all United States veterans.
At 3 p.m., Mayor Marty Hills and Kathie Anderson-Noel welcomed everyone to the dedication ceremony, and Pastor Tom Berryman offered an invocation. The members of Boy Scout Troop 54 raised a flag behind the memorial, and members of Louisa-Muscatine High School’s Color of Jazz ensemble sang the national anthem.
Fruitland Community Lions member Wayne Shoultz, who first had the idea for the All Veterans Memorial, thanked everyone who made it possible. He commended Janina Hawley, the incoming Fruitland Community Lions president, for her dedication to oversee fundraising efforts. “She organized the fundraisers, she organized this event, and she did a good job,” he said. “She gave 100%.” Shoultz also thanked the club member who helped with the construction details, the city council for supporting erecting the monument by the community center, the Community Foundation of Greater Muscatine for handling all the money raised, and each of the contractors who donated in kind materials and labor to get the monument set up.
Hawley then shared the history of how the monument came about. After Shoultz shared his idea for it and the club accepted it as a project, they reached out to Louisa-Muscatine Junior-Senior High School to solicit some of their older students for ideas for what the monument could look like. At Fruitland Fun Days in 2019, the Fruitland Community Lions began fundraising for the memorial, taking donations from individuals and large organizations and companies, and taking applications for people who would like to place a veteran’s name on the monument. In March of 2021, the group broke ground for the monument’s placement. However, supply chain difficulties delayed the completion of the monument until this year, with it arriving in Fruitland only shortly before the dedication ceremony.
The monument currently has 170 veterans from all branches of the service on it. Because the monument still has additional space on it, Hawley welcomed people to add a veteran they care about. Anyone wanting to add a veteran’s name can contact Christopher Weyrick at Rock Crazy Custom Stone Engraving in Wapello by calling him at 319-523-5252 or emailing him to discuss pricing and to get an order form. Typically, engravings will cost between $150 and $200.
Before officially unveiling the monument, Major Sargent Tasha Williams-Jones, a veteran of both the navy and army who served three tours of duty and now serves at the Rock Island Arsenal, said a few words. Williams-Jones commended the Lions for completing the project. “You kept moving forward, you made it happen, and now you did it and it made your community great,” she stated.
She also saw the monument as a tangible reminder of the importance of supporting and honoring veterans every day. “This memorial stands as a reminder of the service of our veterans and of the debt we all owe them.”
After the memorial’s official unveiling, Color of Jazz sang “America the Beautiful,” VFW post 1565 and American Legion Post 27 made a 21 gun salute, and Janet Clark played “Taps.” Following a short benediction from Pastor John Brown, attendees enjoyed a meal in the Fruitland Community Center.