Pvt. Palmer Haraldson is home at last

Sixteen million Americans served in this nation’s military forces during the most horrific war in history – World War II. More than 400,000 perished. One of those heroic defenders of freedom who was killed on a faraway battlefield was a Webster County man – Pvt. Palmer Sherman Haraldson, a United States Marine.

Haraldson died on Nov. 22, 1943, while his unit was attacking a Japanese stronghold on Betio Island in the Pacific Ocean. For generations, his body remained unidentified in a temporary grave so very far from the county where he grew to manhood. It was not until 2015 that Haraldson’s remains were located and identified. Wednesday he was finally laid to rest in Fort Dodge’s Memorial Park Cemetery near his long-deceased parents. A grateful nation, state and home county at last had the opportunity to honor this fallen patriot.

Sadly, this hero perished so long ago, that no family member or friend who knew him in life remained to participate in the solemn farewell ceremonies that took place in Fort Dodge Wednesday.

Haraldson was not, however, laid to rest in a lonely service. Hundreds of people were on hand to pay tribute to a local hero when the procession carrying his remains arrived in Fort Dodge and for his funeral. The impressive funeral included full military honors. Veterans of many wars as well representatives of the U.S. Marine Corps were present to show respect for this Iowan’s service to the nation.

Haraldson’s sacrifice – and that of so many others who have also given their lives for America – should remind us all that the liberty we so cherish has been purchased with the blood of heroes. It is with sadness and pride that we welcome home Pvt. Palmer Haraldson. We will not forget the price he paid so that we could remain free.