John Deere Dubuque Works employee Tony Quatrochi had Thursday off work.
Given the circumstances, however, the Zwingle, Iowa, resident and U.S. Air Force veteran was more than happy to spend the day at the plant.
As a brisk wind blew, he scanned more than 100 brick pavers in search of his name. Once he located it, a wide smile spread across Quatrochi’s face.
“I wouldn’t have missed this for anything,” he said. “This is a big deal for me and for my family. To know that my name is going to be here, that means a lot.”
Quatrochi was among dozens of Deere employees who gathered outside the Dubuque plant Thursday morning to see a new monument honoring military veterans who work for the company.
The monument features more than 130 bricks bearing the names of the veterans and the military branches in which they served. Between the pavers and the American flag, a newly erected monument reads “Honoring our employee veterans who have protected and defended this great nation.”
Quatrochi has worked as an assembler at John Deere Dubuque Works for nearly six years.
He served in the U.S. Air Force from 1988 to 1994. His tenure included a deployment to Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War.
“I spent six months in the desert,” he recalled. “I am really proud of my service and seeing this (monument) makes you feel really important.”
Plant General Manager Mark Dickson took to the podium to formally dedicate the monument, which he referred to as an “honor walk.” He asked all veterans in attendance to raise their hands and be recognized, drawing a hearty round of applause.
“We greatly value our employee-veterans, obviously as great employees, but also because of their willingness to protect and defend this great nation,” Dickson said.
The new display is located just outside the main entrance to the John Deere Dubuque Works facility, making it a highly visible sign of appreciation for the company’s veteran workers.
Those who have served the nation appreciated the gesture.
Tim Roche, a Deere employee and veteran of the U.S. Navy, said the monument was a nice way to honor those who served.
“It is nice that this is more permanent,” he said. “It is not just a day and a lunch to honor veterans. Our names are etched in stone.”
Deere officials dedicated the monument a few days before Veterans Day, which will be recognized Monday, Nov. 11.
Terry Lewis was active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and later served in the U.S. Navy Reserves. He said his employer went above and beyond by creating the new monument.
“It is something they didn’t have to do, but they chose to do it,” he said. “It was a real big surprise when we learned this was going to happen.”