Military personnel and veterans have proudly given their time and lives to preserve the inalienable rights of the citizens of the United States, Jeff Kluever, director of the Allen County Historical Society told fourth-graders at Jefferson Elementary School.
Soldiers should be greeted with a simple “thank you,” every day, he said.
Kluever visited Friday morning with the students, instructing them about the numerous wars Allen County residents had served in and their sacrifice for their country.
National monuments to soldiers include the Vietnam Veterans Wall, World War II monument and Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers in Washington, D.C.
Local respect is given to Allen County veterans on the Veterans Wall on the Iola square. A smaller wall also honors veterans of each branch of the service in the Humboldt public square.
Nothing in history is predetermined, Kluever said. Wars are fought to resolve differences in personal beliefs.
DURING THE Civil War, 223 men from Allen County donned the Union uniform to fight fellow Confederate countrymen to abolish slavery.
Iola resident Nimrod Hankins was among those from Iola who drove William Quantrill and his raiders from Kansas. His military honors and discharge papers may be viewed at the Allen County Historical Museum.
Victoria “Granny” Cowden, who is believed to be the first white woman settler in Kansas, was a nurse during the Civil War and is buried with soldiers of the 9th Kansas Cavalry in the Iola Cemetery west of Iola.
The story goes that Cowden couldn’t bear to be parted from her husband who was a member of the 9th Kansas Cavalry. She followed his troop to Arkansas where she served as a nurse. When her husband was killed during battle, she stayed with the Cavalry nursing the wounds of the soldiers, Kluever said.
Kluever displayed several uniforms from the Spanish American War, medals and the American flag that was draped over the casket of Gen. Frederick Funston, who has a museum dedicated to his life in the museum complex.
AS KLUEVER moved into the 20th Century, he talked about World War I, World War II and the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
Prominent Iola businessman Lewis Northrup served during WWI. Northrup was wounded and received a Purple Heart.
Dog tags were introduced during WWI to identify fallen soldiers. During the Civil War soldiers wrote their names on a piece of paper which was sewn in their clothes in hope that family members would be contacted if they were killed during battle.
During World War II, Earl Ansell and his two brothers, Virgil and Leo, represented Allen County in Europe, Africa and South Pacific.
After a family in Iowa lost five sons, brothers were no longer allowed to serve under one command, Kluever said.
Serving in the Korean War were Iolans Spencer Ambler and Harvey Rogers. Ambler is the first African American to serve as a postmaster in Kansas, and Rogers was the first African American allowed to play football in southeast Kansas.
Allen County residents losing their lives in Vietnam included James Godsey, Robert Goodner, Eduardo Jimenez and James Mott. Their legacy lives on in the hearts of their families, Kleuver said.
“I encourage you to remember our veterans and their families each day and thank them for putting their lives on the line so we may live in a free country,” he said.