Six years ago, a $2.5 million had not a penny to its name, but now, the Welcome Home Soldier Memorial is already a sight to behold.
The monument is located just west of Albia, Iowa off Highway 34. Right now, the field off the highway is scattered with granite pieces, but in a few years, the space will be transformed into a one-of-a-kind monument welcoming home and thanking every veteran from every war.
"It's important to veterans nationwide, and especially to our veterans throughout this part of the country," said Vietnam veteran Max Cox. "You won't see another thing built like this I'm sure in this part of the Midwest."
"We decided six years ago that we wanted to do this," said Vietnam veteran and Welcome Home Soldier Board President. "One of the things we wanted to make sure of was that people just didn't walk up to it and walk away from it, we wanted it to be a history lesson, we want it for our young people and veterans to come back and be proud of what we've accomplished here."
While many monuments commemorate veterans from a certain war, or by home town, this one is unique in that it honors every veteran who has ever served our country.
"I do not want anyone to think this is Monroe County, or Iowa, this is a United States monument, we think it can be that big as far as that goes," Keller said. "So far, we have 1,000 names on the monument and as you can see, we started placing it, it should be done this week."
The 31 5,000 pound granite pieces are just the start. When completed, the monument will include around 400 American flags, 14 Medal of Honor crosses, representing the 14 Iowans awarded the honor, and 21 granite crosses, representing the 21-Gun Salute. There will also be a flag flying from every state, making visits a powerful experience for visitors across the country.
"My children did not know their grandparents, because they were dead when they were born," Keller said. "My father, father-in-law's names are on that monument and from this day on, they will know them."
For more information on the monument, visit their website .