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‘Freedom is never free’

Farnhamville dedicates Veterans Memorial Park

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Members of the crowd are shown here as the national anthem played Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park in Farnhamville.

FARNHAMVILLE — When Calhoun County’s newest tribute to veterans was dedicated Sunday in Farnhamville, it represented the fruition of a goal that took root 25 years ago.

“When you consider that the trees behind me were planted in 1998, it’s clear this park is the culmination of many years of work to honor local veterans,” said Paul Kail, a Vietnam veteran and member of Farnhamville American Legion Post 510.

Today, Veterans Memorial Park at the north edge of town includes three massive, metal flagpoles set in a smooth, concrete base. This marked the completion of phase two of the three-phase project, which started with the installation of a sidewalk in 2018.

Nearby stands a gleaming, black monument that was set in April 2021.

Measuring 8 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 10 inches thick, the 3,840-pound stone came from a quarry in the Red River Valley. In April 2021, Kallin-Johnson Monument Company of Fort Dodge installed the stone, which is inscribed with the insignias from all the branches of the U.S. armed forces, along with the words “Freedom is Never Free: Farnhamville Veterans Memorial, Post 510, In Honor of the Men and Women Who Served Our Country in the Armed Forces.”

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Approximately 30 veterans and community members gathered Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park on the north edge of Farnhamville for the dedication of the park.

The monument and Veterans Memorial Park have transformed a 400-foot by 65-foot area that served as a football field for the Cedar Valley school district in the late 1960s into the 1970s.

When this football field was no longer needed, the space became a grassy, empty lot for many years.

Local veterans like Kail saw this as a unique space to honor veterans and connect the community. Veterans Memorial Park sits west of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church and north of Nolte Field, a baseball diamond named in honor of Myron Nolte, a former member of the local American Legion.

Creating Veterans Memorial Park wasn’t easy, especially since a project of this scale requires thousands of dollars. Members of American Legion Post 510 and the local American Legion Auxiliary hosted countless soup suppers, fish fries, gun auctions and quilt raffles through the years. “We raised about $16,000 in 10 years,” Kail said.

Those funds not only helped purchase the monument, but they helped project leaders secure some sizable grants, including a Calhoun Community Foundation grant and a Grow Greene County grant.

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
This gleaming, 8-foot-tall, black monument in Veterans Memorial Park in Farnhamville is inscribed with the insignias from all the branches of the U.S. armed forces.

During the Veterans Memorial Park dedication ceremony Sunday afternoon, brothers Randy, Reggie and Roger Kopecky, who grew up in Farnhamville, raised the American flag, the Iowa flag and the POW/MIA flag at the Veterans Memorial Park. The flagpole area, which was completed in September 2022, includes a 25-foot flagpole in the center for the American flag.

During the dedication, Larry Brown, a Farnhamville American Legion Post 510 member,

thanked all the community members who made this possible, from local farmer Dave Seil, who

dug the holes for the flagpole footings, to Ryan Willison, owner of Willison Concrete in Farnhamville.

“It was my pleasure to do my little part with the memorial,” Seil said. “A lot of the guys who headed up this project are Vietnam veterans. They didn’t have a great homecoming as a whole. Maybe our little parts in honoring them will help a little.”

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Following the dedication of Veterans Memorial Park in Farnhamville, guests gathered at the Farnhamville American Legion Post 510 for pie, beverages and conversation.

All that has extra meaning for a veteran like Kail. The 1962 Cedar Valley High School

graduate was drafted into the U.S. Army during the turbulent years of the 1960s and served in the military for two years, including one in Vietnam. When he and his fellow soldiers landed back in the United States at the airport in San Francisco, it wasn’t a warm welcome.

“Protestors were chucking beer bottles over the fence at us,” said Kail, who received a much warmer welcome when he returned home to Farnhamville.

After farming for a number of years, Kail opened Kail Tax Service in 1984, which he

continues to operate. Both he and his wife, Rita, are active volunteers in Farnhamville.

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Paul Kail is a Vietnam veteran and member of Farnhamville American Legion Post 510.

Community members like Shari Everhart appreciate their efforts.

“The Veterans Memorial Park not only enhances the town, but it’s an important way to honor all the veterans who fought to protect our freedom and our way of life.”

Members of the Farnhamville American Legion Post 510 are already looking forward to the final phase of their three-phase plan for the Veterans Memorial Park.

“In phase three, we hope to complete a walkway around the perimeter of the park and add a gazebo at the west end of the park,” Kail said.

Kail also hopes local veterans’ legacy of devotion to duty and civic responsibility will continue to inspire people today.

“My uncles served in World War II and taught me the importance of duty and service,” Kail said. “When I look at Veterans Memorial Park, it’s so great to see this all come together. I hope we can finish this last phase, too.”

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