PRESTON, Iowa (KWQC) – Zach Reiff was killed in action on November 21, 2011.
Almost five years later, friends and family gathered in Too Good Park to commemorate a new memorial
“It’s a battlefield cross,” says Tom Rollins, author of “Under One Flag”.
The story behind the memorial starts with Reiff’s funeral in Preston, when Larry Eckhardt, The Flag Man, lined the funeral route with close to two thousand flags.
One flag was leaning on its side, when author Rick Randall bent to straighten it. It was then that he noticed the name on the flag was Michael Weinberg, a firefighter who had died at Ground Zero during 9/11.
“Two heroic figures who were connected through one flag,” says Randall. “It was a neat story.”
Randall and Rollins decided to publish a book complete with the two stories and photos. From those book sales, they then decided to raise funds for a memorial in honor of Reiff.
Zach’s father Matthew says when they first approached him about a memorial, he admits he was a little wary.
“They promised it would be in good taste,” says Reiff. “They kept their promise and I really think it turned out great.”
The entire community came out to support the Reiff family, a showing Reiff says he’s come to cherish from a small town.
“That’s an everyday occurrence for this town,” he says. “If someone’s in need or an event like this comes around, people are going to turn out.”
Both Randall and Rollins were happy to see the project finally complete.
“I think it’s so important in America, the freedoms that we have, that we honor those that have paid that price for us,” says Rollins.
“Towns like Preston, Iowa ‘get it,'” adds Randall. “They’re patriotic and they have respect for those that serve.”