We are humbled and gratified that a Member of Congress will speak at the Storm Lake Memorial Day ceremony Monday morning on the courthouse lawn. Rep. Steve King, R-Kiron, has taken time out of his busy schedule in Washington to offer his reflections on those who served our nation in the military and who have gone on to their eternal reward. The committee that secured his appearance is to be congratulated.
In the interest of fairness, we must acknowledge that this is in fact an election year. King’s Democratic opponent, Jim Mowrer of Boone, will not share the podium.
We are compelled to point out that Mowrer served in the U.S. Army for 23 months in Iraq in one of the deadliest jobs: trying to find buried improvised explosive devices and land mines. After his combat hitch, he continued to serve the Army as an analyst in the Pentagon.
We also hope that King’s time in Storm Lake might cause him to reconsider his opposition to undocumented immigrants serving in the US military. A California Republican House member introduced a bill that would have allowed these immigrants to gain citizenship after an honorable discharge from the military.
King, who did not serve in the armed forces, suggested that immigrants were trying to “smuggle” themselves into the military and he called the proposal “bizarre.”
Which brings us to the story of Lance Corporal Jose Guitierrez, who is said to be the first Marine killed in Iraq. Cpl. Guitierrez, 22, was killed in a firefight on March 21, 2003 near Umm Qasr.
At age 14, with both his parents dead, Gutierrez left his home in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and hopped 14 freight trains through Mexico to reach California. He learned English, finished high school and enlisted in the U.S. Marines, where he became a rifleman. He was not a United States citizen, yet he offered the ultimate sacrifice for his adopted nation.
He is buried in Guatemala.
Here is what King said about undocumented immigrants who may want to serve in the US military: “As soon as they raise their hand and say, ‘I’m unlawfully present in the United States,’ we’re not going to take your oath into the military, but we’re going to take your deposition, and we have a bus for you to Tijuana.’”
The bill died in the House.
The world sat in awe as Dr. Christian Barnard of Cape Town, South Africa, emerged in scrubs to tell the gathered press corps in 1967 that he had just completed the world’s first heart transplant. What a wondrous thing it was! What a wondrous thing it remains as we happily report that Aspen Wiederholt, 19, Storm Lake, is doing well following a heart transplant last week at the Univeristy of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.
Hers follows a successful transplant a few years ago for Steve Stille, the genial insurance man from Storm Lake who just keeps on ticking.
It boggles the mind that we would see heart transplant recipients in our hometown in our lifetimes.
These two miracles would not have been possible were it not for two things:
• Research. Barnard was enabled by federally funded research into immunology at Stanford and Columbia universities.
• Donors. No transplant is possible without someone with the courage to say “yes” on an organ donor card.
Lend your voice and vote to more basic scientific research support across a range of issues. Immunology research started seriously in the early 1900s but it took more than 60 years for its successful application.
Be a donor. Consider the University of Iowa, University of Nebraska, Creighton University or Des Moines University in your living will. You might save someone’s life or you might help train a student physician inspired to be the next great scientist.