After being named a POW-MIA City this spring, Waterloo is taking more steps to honor veterans who were prisoners of war or are missing in action.
It is doing that by dedicating a monument and signage for those veterans at 10 a.m. Saturday at Lakeview Park.
“In a few years, all our World War II veterans are going to be gone,” Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith said. “As we grow older – who are the sons and daughters of World War II veterans – it’s important for young people to realize the sacrifice that they gave for our country.”
The Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum has named Waterloo a POW-MIA City for its efforts to honor those veterans.
This monument was one element the museum took into consideration when giving Waterloo the designation, as it has been in the works for some time.
It may not have been possible, however, without the community donating more than $8,000 for the project.
Those donations mainly came from sponsors like the Waterloo Odd Fellows, a community grant from Walmart and leftover funds from 2018’s Military Heritage Day.
“I thought it was really great,” Smith said of the support. “It was Waterloo stepping forward again.”
All the bills are not in, but so far the city has spent a little over $7,000 on the monument project, with $4,800 for the monument itself.
Hill Monument Company in Columbia created the monument, which is made of red granite and looks similar to ones already at the park.
“I think it looks great,” Smith said.
The signage, however, is unlike anything at the park. It is similar to the historical signs outside Waterloo City Hall or Harrisonville Telephone Company.
It lists the names of locals who were memorialized or buried overseas, including what cemetery they are buried in, along with their plot, row and grave number.
Laux Grafix created the sign, which Smith he is excited to have.
“I think it’s important that we not only remember our POWs and our Missing in Action, but the ones who never came home because they’re buried overseas,” Smith noted.
The city will honor those people with an approximately hour-long ceremony.
The Illinois Patriot Guard, Waterloo American Legion and Waterloo VFW will all have roles in the event.
The Gibault Hawkappells and a group of second graders from Ss. Peter & Paul Catholic School will also perform the National Anthem and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, respectively.
The main portion of the ceremony will be the guest speakers.
Those will include former state Rep. Dan Reitz, state Sen. Paul Schimpf (R-Waterloo), American Legion Post 747 Commander Roy J. May and Waterloo VFW Post 6504 Commander John Fuller.
The guest of honor will be Col. Kenneth Moss, who works at the Air Mobility Command Headquarters on Scott Air Force Base.
The ceremony will include a gun salute and the playing of taps.
Smith said the proceedings demonstrate the city’s attitude toward veterans.
“It shows our community how we respect our law enforcement, our military and our soldiers,” he said. “It’s just a great thing that shows we don’t want their memory to die. We want it to live on.”
The public is encouraged to attend the event. Those who come should bring their own lawn chairs.
The city is specifically asking any family of those being honored attend.
Smith said those in attendance further help honor the veterans.
“It shows their respect for our veterans who never came home or who sacrificed in the hellish prisons during World War II and Korea,” he said.