By Steve Woodhouse Editor
The Journal Express
---- — The Knoxville Hormel plant on Friday made a $500 donation to the eight-acre Welcome Home Soldier veterans’ memorial in Monroe County.
Albia’s Jim Keller and Max Cox, prior to accepting the donation, shared information about the project; one in which Keller has been working on for over eight years. Keller and Cox are veterans themselves. Inspiration for the memorial, and its name, came to Keller after traveling to Springfield, Ill., to meet the author of the book “Beyond Survival.” Keller enjoyed the book and was eager to meet the man who penned it.
As Keller approached the author, the man said, “Welcome home, Soldier,” to him. Keller, a Vietnam vet, had not heard that since returning from the war.
The memorial includes 31 pieces of granite, names, flags, white crosses which are lit each evening. Beyond honoring those who have served, Keller said the memorial should also be a learning tool.
“We want it to be a history lesson,” Keller said. Much of the memorial has already been erected. Over $750,000 has been raised, but there is more work to do. Keller stressed that the memorial is not an Albia memorial, nor one for just Monroe County or Iowa, but for all veterans. He envisions the memorial, when completed, as a national monument to America’s heroes.
Hormel Plant Manager Troy Hawkshead said the company has supported the memorial in various ways for years. He is proud of what his employees have done to serve their country and community. The memorial is a nice way to honor our veterans’ selfless acts, he added.
The $500 donation, presented to Keller by Don Lindley, comes from the plant’s discretionary fund. For more information on the memorial, visit www.monroecoia.us.