The history of Memorial Day — originally known as Decoration Day — began three years after the end of the Civil War when Maj. Gen. John A. Logan ordered his posts to decorate graves in 1868. Logan said, “We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance…. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”
Iowans can be proud that our state contributed proportionally more soldiers than any other to the cause of keeping the Union strong during the Civil War in the 1860s. The commitment of Iowans to our country’s freedom hasn’t waned since.
At the Statehouse, we’re always looking for ways to thank those who’ve served and sacrificed, including veterans and returning service members in recent conflicts. Here are four helpful initiatives already signed into law this year:
- A more stable source of revenue for the Iowa Veterans Trust Fund – Senate File 323 requires $2.5 million in lottery revenues be transferred each year to the trust fund, rather than relying on net profits from the sale of four annual veterans-designated games.
- Consumer protections for veterans seeking benefits – House File 414 requires private providers of veterans’ benefit services to give prospective clients contact information for the Iowa Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, clients must sign a statement acknowledging that they are aware that veterans’ benefit services are offered for free through veteran service organizations and the county commission of veteran affairs.
- Flexibility in using college aid – Senate File 130 makes changes to the National Guard Educational Assistance Program. Currently, participation is limited by semesters of attendance, or the trimester or quarter equivalent. The bill replaces that with a more flexible system of 120 credit hours of undergraduate study.
- Expanding college credit for military training – Colleges and universities award educational credits to veterans for military education, training and experience. House File 205 expands those covered to include National Guard members and Reservists, saving them time and money in completing their degrees.