The Birth of An Idea
In 2010, we began the process of digitizing our records when we came to the subject of the county’s Armed Forces Grave Registrations. Mandated by the State of Iowa, they provide details on every veteran buried within the confines of the county and until then, they were simply records shoved away in a binder each month. We took a closer look at the information contained in the forms and decided that the information contained in them could benefit veterans and their family members today and began an exhaustive program of scanning and detailing each piece of information they held. Through our work, we discovered several veterans that we never had record of including many that were killed in action and died in the line of duty.
It’s Interesting How Quickly An Idea Can Get Away From You…
We uncovered a massive amount of statistical data within a relatively short period of time but then thought of how this information could be used to help the taxpayers of Bremer County. We didn’t have to think long for soon other organizations wanted to get involved. The Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School, led by Miranda Haugan, jumped at the opportunity to help us GPS (Global Positioning System) the final resting place of our heroes and what began as a relatively innocent project, now had a name, Heroes Reborn, because that is what we’re doing; bringing attention to the forgotten heroes of the county and allowing the world to recognize how proud we are of their sacrifice, whether on the field of battle or the war within, long after the battle has ended.
Financial Support and the Current State of the Project
At the beginning of 2014, we applied for a Community Foundations Grant and were awarded one of the only historical grants that Bremer County and Readlyn Community Foundations provided. We immediately set to task the creation of a webpage for each of the 2600+ veterans buried within the county. Each page will provide public primary and secondary source documents, whenever possible, stories, oral histories, photographs, and any other piece of history that we can lay our hands on that will hopefully give us a glimpse into each of our veteran’s lives. We’ve just begun adding veterans to the website and, with additional volunteers, hope to have several done each week. We understand that this will be a multi-year project but one that we’re resolute in completing!
What We Need Now
First and foremost, we need any information you can provide on each of the veterans buried in the county. Genealogists and history buffs have been collecting this information for decades and we hope to utilize every resource to provide the most comprehensive view of each veteran. Your photographs, newspaper clippings, family research, stories, and primary source documents are all imperative to the project and while much of the information could be found by other means, your assistance in compiling the information is paramount.
Another aspect of the project is locating, through GPS technology, the location of each final resting place of our veterans. The Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School has been arduously working on the Waverly area and we need more students, volunteers and GPS’s to complete the project county-wide. Many of the GPS devices that Waverly-Shell Rock have been using are inaccurate and only work about 25% of the time. We definitely have use for newer handheld devices.
This project is 100% funded by grants and donations. To date, we have received $1,500 for research, web development, and archiving materials for the original documents dating over 100 years old. If you would like to support the project monetarily, you may make a donation through the “Support Us” tab to the left or make your checks payable to Bremer County Veterans Affairs and send them to the office. Please include a note stating where you would like your donation used, whether Heroes Reborn or one of our other programs.
Finally, we need volunteers for data entry, research and/or a small amount of web development. Most of the work can be done from the confines of your own home but we have plenty of room in the office to get you set up on the project. If you’d prefer to be outdoors, we can set you up with a GPS and a list and send you out into the county. If you are interested in volunteering for the project, please complete the application below.