Waterloo is being recognized for its efforts to honor veterans who were prisoners of war or are missing in action.
The Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum officially named Waterloo a POW-MIA City at Monday’s city council meeting, making it the second city in Illinois to earn the distinction.
“We haven’t forgotten the veterans who were prisoners of war, the ones who are still missing from World War I and the ones who haven’t come home from overseas because they’re buried overseas,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said. “We remember those people.”
Museum representative Paul Dillon, whose father was a POW, said that is the aim of the program.
“It’s up to us to remember,” he said. “That’s the purpose of the POW-MIA city and county program, so we won’t forget. That’s what it’s all about.”
The museum was founded in 2011 to honor those who were captured during a war or are still missing in action.
Recently, it has started honoring cities and counties that raise awareness of POW and MIA veterans. Most of those municipalities are in Missouri, but word about the program is getting out as it expands nationwide.
Smith learned of the program when he saw a sign in Missouri. He soon got to work, calling the museum to learn more.
Waterloo officials then gave a presentation to the museum’s board of directors, highlighting a number of things the city does to honor its POW and MIA veterans.
That includes displaying the flag at City Hall, displaying service flags during holidays like Veterans Day, having the Veterans Memorial at Lakeview Park and having an MIA table at the VFW.
The city also plans to add to its efforts as part of this program by building a monument at Lakeview Park for those who were POWs or are MIA.
It is raising money for that monument. Donations can be made to American Legion Post 747 in Waterloo.
Additionally, the city is creating a book on all locals who were POWs or are MIA, with pictures and information on each person.
“We’re hoping to have a little bit on everybody,” Smith said.
The city has been conducing research on the topic, using resources like the Veterans of Monroe County book.
Most of the veterans who fall in those categories are from World War I and World War II. There was only one POW from the Korean War and none from the Vietnam War.
The city found about 10 locals who are MIA.
Overall, the United States has about 140,000 POWs and 82,000 MIA veterans, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs and Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
Dillon said we can all learn from these veterans.
“One of the lessons I think we can learn from our POWs is we have within us the strength to endure,” he said.
The book will also have information about locals who are buried overseas, including where they are buried.
“We think we have everybody who was buried overseas in World War I and World War II,” Smith said.
Once completed, copies of the book will go to the museum, library, American Legion, VFW and local schools.
Waterloo is still looking for any more information it can find for the book, including any additional names. It is specifically searching for more on World War II veterans Richard Cox, Orville Dayton, Robert Eggert and Jerry Gordon and POWs Calvin Vogt, Raymond Laskowski, Clyde Meyer and Dave Crosby.
“If anybody has more information on any of the ones that are missing in action, or if their relatives are missing in action and they know about it, we’d like to have it so we can have a nice book that talks about all these guys,” Smith said.
To provide more information, call 939-8600, ext. 211
In other news from the meeting, the city council approved an amendment to the trash collection agreement with Reliable Sanitation by extending a temporary recycling surcharge.
The monthly household charge for trash pickup in Waterloo is set at $15.99, which includes the 60-cent recycling surcharge.
The council also voted to approve a lease agreement between the city and State Bank of Waterloo for use of the vacant lot at the corner of Fourth and Main streets across from City Hall as additional downtown parking.
Once touch-ups are completed by sometime this May, the lot will provide approximately 30 parking spots to help alleviate recent downtown parking concerns.
Also approved on Monday were downtown beautification grants for Philomena + Ruth at 118 W. Mill Street and Main Street Saloon at 220 N. Main Street, as well as six-month extensions for previously approved beautification grants for Yo-Toppings at 624 N. Market Street, a new video gaming parlor at 424 W. Fourth Street and Tannous Chiropractic at 121 N. Main Street.