ALBIA, Iowa — The Welcome Home Soldier Monument keeps expanding to honor more veterans at its seven-acre site west of Albia. The display is planning to add a Korean War Monument and a Monument to Women who served in the military.
Jim Keller got the monument started a few years back. He went to Illinois to hear a speaker, Gerald Coffee, who was a prisoner of war in Vietnam for over six years.
“He walked up to me in beforehand he shook my hand and said, thank you for your service and welcome home soldier,” said Keller. “That’s the first time anybody has ever done that to me in 34 years, in fact that’s where the name came from Welcome Home Soldier.”
To build this monument with 100 United States flags, it took a lot of fundraising, over $2.6 million.
Keller is a Vietnam Vet himself.
“I worked for HyVee for 34 years, and my tour of duty was in Vietnam with the 101st Airbourne,” said Keller. “The last six months we spent in the mountain region of Vietnam.”
Welcome Home Soldier has a wall for names of area veterans, it also has a Prisoner of War display, and another display with all states’ flags. A Civil War soldier statue plays music twice each day.
“There’s a soldier at 8 o’clock in the morning he plays reveille, in at 5 o’clock every night he plays Taps,” said Keller.
The display is open 24 hours a day and is well lit at night.
“We’ve had them (visitors) from five countries, stop by here, and I always ask them why,” said Keller. “They are just driving through Iowa and get off the main road, and they happened to see it, they have a ton of questions.”
If you would like to know more about Welcome Home Soldier Monument in Albia, click here.