The Only Iowa-Born President

The Only Iowa-Born President

Herbert Hoover, a U.S. President and humanitarian hero born in Iowa, was honored recently in West Branch.

Saturday, October 25, 2014 was the 50th anniversary of President Herbert Hoover's funeral in his boyhood home of West Branch, Iowa. Born into a Quaker family, Hoover went on to become the 31st President of the United States. Hoover is the only Iowa-born U.S. President, and the first to be born west of the Mississippi River. He is also one of Iowa's and the world's greatest humanitarian heroes, whose famine-relief efforts in World War I and again in World War II are credited with saving up to a billion lives.

HOOVER BIRTHPLACE: Born at West Branch, Iowa on Aug. 10, 1874, Herbert Hoover went on to become the 31st President of the United States. He is buried here, at the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch.

As the leader of the Commission for the Relief of Belgium during World War I, Hoover spearheaded an unprecedented program to purchase and deliver food to over 9 million Belgian men, women and children who were trapped between the occupying German army and a British naval blockade. Hoover secured diplomatic privileges for the commission and negotiated with both sides of the conflict to ensure that food was safely delivered to starving civilians.

Following World War II, he once again led hunger relief efforts
His fundraising efforts were such that the commission was left with surplus funds after the armistice was signed, which were used to rebuild schools and establish a Belgian-American cultural exchange program.

Following World War II Hoover again sprang into action, conducting an assessment of global hunger that resulted in further American leadership to avert famine. Hoover was a professional mining engineer, prior to getting involved in politics and eventually becoming president of the United States.

Ceremonies were held October 25, 2014 in remembrance of Hoover at the Hoover Presidential Library in West Branch in eastern Iowa, where he is buried. The event included a gravesite reading of the eulogy delivered at Hoover's state funeral 50 years ago. There were also remarks by Iowa dignitaries and among those who spoke at the October 25 event was Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation, which is headquartered in Des Moines.

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America shares it's bounty with hungry people in honor of Hoover
"But perhaps the greatest tribute paid to Hoover that day was a 3 and a half hour meal packaging event in the high school gymnasium," says Stephen Lauer, a program manager at the World Food Prize Foundation. "Over 250 volunteers packaged 84,024 meals for distribution to hungry families in Iowa and abroad." Organized on a three-month timeline by the West Branch Lions Club in partnership with Outreach Inc., and local businesses, the activity was described as "something simple that everybody can do."

West Branch Lion's Club organizer Mike Quinlan, who climbed a tree as a boy to watch the original state funeral of Herbert Hoover, captured the spirit of the community, saying, "After serving our country in the armed forces, serving the hungry and our community is the best thing we can do to honor the legacy of President Hoover."

These same Iowa-values once led President Hoover to declare: "For thousands of years, the question 'Am I my brother's keeper?' has been in the conscience of mankind. The American people were the first in history to accept that obligation as a nation."

Read Ambassador Quinn's remarks at 50th anniversary
You can read Ambassador Quinn's full remarks at the October 25 event in West Branch by going to www.worldfoodprize.org.

In the World Food Prize Hall of Laureates in Des Moines there is a great mural on the wall, commissioned by Iowa artist Gary Kelly showing Hoover in his rightful place alongside other great Iowa hunger fighters like Norman Borlaug, George Washington Carver, Henry A. Wallace and Jessie Field Shambaugh. "Together they comprise Iowa's pantheon of heroes whose remarkable achievements have literally uplifted more than a billion suffering people," says Quinn.

The World Food Prize Foundation launched the Iowa Hunger Directory in honor of the centennial observance of the birth of the WFP founder, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. Past issues of the Iowa Hunger Directory newsletter are www.worldfoodprize.org.

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Upcoming Events from the Iowa Hunger Calendar
Ongoing – Nov 6: Quad Cities Student Hunger Drive

Nov 3 – Nov 7: Salvation Army Christmas Sign Up, Des Moines

Nov 8: Sixth Annual Hope for the Hungry Gathering, Des Moines

Nov 8 – Nov 9: Reggie's Sleepout, Des Moines

Nov 9: Family Promise Comfort Food Cookoff, Des Moines

Nov 10: Catwalk for College, Des Moines

Nov 10: Service Fair, Des Moines

Nov 11: Food For Thought: Food Insecurity in Your Community, Humboldt

Nov 12: 'Read to Feed' at the Iowa City Public Library

Nov 13: Iowa Afterschool Alliance Eastern Iowa Roundtable, Burlington

Nov 13: Fresh Conversations on Older Iowans' Hunger and Nutrition, webinar

Nov 14 – Nov 15: Women Food & Ag Network Annual Conference, Des Moines

Nov 14 – Nov 15: Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference, Des Moines

Nov 16: Wartburg – Waverly CROP Hunger Walk

Nov 19: Iowa Afterschool Alliance Eastern Iowa Roundtable, Dubuque

Nov 20: Iowa Afterschool Alliance Eastern Iowa Roundtable, Waukon

Submit an event at: www.worldfoodprize.org/shareyourevent

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