Veterans Day, Nov. 11, is set aside to honor the service of all U.S. military veterans, living and dead, and the eve of it is a good time to take a look at this small memorial, placed in the Chariton Cemetery during 2001.
A personal project of Don B. Kingsbury, it commemorates 16 young men, including Kingsbury, his brother, Paul, and longtime business partner, Mahlon Laing --- 15 from Lucas County and another from Winterset --- all sworn into U.S. Navy service on July 4, 1942, before a crowd estimated at 2,000 on the square during Chariton's annual Independence Day celebration.
Don Kingsbury and Laing were only 17 at the time, swept up in the wave of patriotism created by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Dec. 7, 1941, and U.S. entry into World War II.
Remarkably, all 16 men survived the war and returned home to lead productive lives.
When Kingsbury died earlier this year at age 90, on March 27, he was the last man from this group still standing in Iowa. Randal Willoughby, a retired Chicago-area oral surgeon, still was living in 2012. All the others have passed.
If you look immediately to the right of the monument, you will see Kingsbury's grave.
Coincidentally, the stone marking the grave of Dennis W. Bingham, a U.S. Army green beret killed in action in Laos on July 17, 1969, is visible here to the east, immediately above the peak of the monument.
If you'd like to learn more, first-hand, about Kingsbury and the men he served with --- Don was interviewed on Nov. 9, 2012, in Des Moines, as part of the Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress. You will find a transcript of that interview here.