Every week, Creston Community School District custodian Joe Anson goes out into the community and highlights a local veteran, honoring them for their service by dubbing them ‘Veteran of the Week.’
Anson’s practice of honoring veterans began around three years ago, asking veterans to throw the honorary first pitch during Little League games at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial Field.
“They’d come out, throw the pitch, say the pledge, the kids would all shake their hands,” said Anson. “We honored a veteran each week and they would get a plaque and a baseball.”
Due to impact of COVID-19 on sporting event schedules and public gatherings, Anson said he was unable to honor veterans in the way he had in the past.
“I came up with the idea of making it mobile,” said Anson. “We go to a different veteran’s house every Friday or Saturday. We put a banner out in front of their yard and they get a yard sign with their military picture on it.”
Anson has recently began handing out shirts to the veterans as well, with the shirts being designed and donated by Jana Weland.
“She donated the shirts and labor and all that,” said Anson. “She’s done a wonderful job.”
Anson said he has always had a great respect for the military due to his own status as a veteran.
“I didn’t go on any tours or anything, I was one of those lucky few that went in between wars,” said Anson. “But the guys that went over there, they don’t come back like they did during the older wars. They go on a tour and they don’t get the recognition or thank you I believe they deserve.”
Interactions between veterans and youth are a focal point for Anson, who said he believes it’s important for the kids of today to understand the hardships faced by those who answered the call of duty.
“It’s nice to try and get our youth involved with our elders, our veterans,” said Anson.
As a bigger display of respect, Anson said he is preparing to hand out flyers as part of a fundraising effort for a much larger project to honor Union County veterans.
“I’m getting ready to do fundraising for a veterans’ wall that is going to just be veterans of Union County,” said Anson.
The project is being accomplished through the VFW, and will be erected at the VFW Memorial Field.
“It’s going to be a steel wall, 18-foot-long, 5-foot-tall, with the flag and an eagle on top,” said Anson. “It’s going to be two-sided, and there will be room for a thousand veterans in there. It’s going to be quite the piece of art.”
While the budget for the project is $5,000, Anson said he believes they won’t have any trouble securing the necessary funding to complete the wall.
“I know the community is going to come behind me and help me with this,” said Anson. “It’s a great community for a purpose like this.”
For those interested in donating, funds can be sent to Joe Anson, 1006 W. Jefferson St., Creston, IA 50801. For any further questions or inquiries, contact Anson at 515-720-4727, or Denny Abel at 641-782-0517.