SIOUX CITY, Iowa — Some veterans have given themselves a new mission: Restore the cannon at Memorial Park Cemetery in Sioux City.
The U.S. War Department awarded it in 1942 to the Sioux City chapter of the Military Order of the Purple Heart after the cannon's World War I service in France in 1918, the Sioux City Journal reported. The chapter no longer exists.
It's unknown precisely when the cannon was dedicated in the cemetery, but a 1954 photo shows it residing there.
Rust is found under the peeling paint on the metal. Some spindles are missing, and the wooden wheels and spindles on the gun carriage are rotting.
"The wheels have slowly gotten worse over the years," said Danny Kuhlmann, cemetery superintendent. He began working at the cemetery in 1977.
Kuhlmann said the privately owned cemetery hasn't made repairs to the cannon because of its tight budget.
The veterans from Le Mars and Kingsley didn't think it was right that an artillery piece this special has deteriorated.
"Not that it is our responsibility, but it is our responsibility as veterans," said Kie Ahrens, commander of American Legion Nash Post 140 in Kingsley. "To me, it's something to be proud of. If somebody doesn't take care of it, it's going to be gone before long."
Ahrens and Army veteran Curt Moodie are not strangers to restoring antique cannons. They rededicated a refurbished Civil War cannon at Kingsley's cemetery on Memorial Day.
Moodie said he hoped that other veterans' organizations and individuals from Sioux City and the area would help with the project.
"We want it to be a Siouxland project," Moodie said. "Everyone should care about this."