Rep. Steve King Dedicates Armistice Flagpole in Herring, Iowa

What a wonderful morning in northern Iowa.
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) dedicated the Armistice flagpole in Herring, Iowa this morning west of Wall Lake.

The herring flagpole was put up 95 years ago on Armistice Day in 1918. Today Rep. Steve King helped us dedicate this flagpole.

herring invite

Here is a copy of my speech today in Herring.


Good morning and welcome to Herring, Iowa.
It’s been a long time since there’s been a celebration like this in Herring.
Obviously, much has changed.

The Boyer River dominated the valley back in the 1800’s as it meandered back and forth on its way to the Missouri River. Each spring as the Iowa snow melted, and after the heavy rains, the shallow Boyer riverbed overflowed and the valley flooded. Birds, were plentiful in this area, which led to valley being called the “goose pond”. Wolves and fox roamed the plains.

In 1869, the first white settlers came, the first three families were the Leveys, the Deans, and the Weeds, all related, from northern Illinois and earlier from New York state. They settled on the south edge of the Boyer just about 1/3 of a mile from this point. They travelled out by railroad and then by wagon. The Indians did not have permanent camps in this area but every spring they supposedly trekked from the northeast down to the Council Bluffs area. The Spirit Lake Massacre, by the Sioux Indians, had occurred 12 years earlier, news of which had been covered in the eastern newspapers. And although the Indians still raided in Minnesota, Iowa had had no further incidents. But that did not alleviate the fear of the settlers, particularly the women, who would have to deal with the Indians that came to the door begging for food or blankets.

This was early Iowa. This was early America.

Next the Calhouns, Richardsons, Maynards, Muxens, Eatons, and Scotts, mostly of English descent, came to this area. They were followed by German and other European nationalities, such as the the Lamaak, Gerken, Rohde, Hoft, Peters, Bieret , Lawler, Roth, Landgraf, and Auen families. And we are thrilled that many of their descendents are here today.

Two rail lines would serve this part of the valley. The trains brought the outside world to Levey Township. An area was set aside for a town, first called Weed, later renamed Herring.
This land was platted in the 1890’s. Herring had a post office. An outlet for surplus grain and livestock. A grain elevator was built across the tracks from the train depot, and a livestock loading facility to the east. A general store, creamery, blacksmith shop, lumber yard, barber shop, pool hall, bars and a dance hall were built in Herring. No churches were established but preachers came through, baptizing, marrying and burying. Horse and buggy, wagons and trains provided transportation.
This was early America.

The new century brought new challenges. The United States entered the first World War in Europe. It was a difficult time. Many local families still spoke German in their homes, and some subscribed to German language newspapers and attended German language churches. Obviously it was difficult for them to accept that their sons would be fighting their cousins in Belgium, France and Germany. But the sons of Sac County proudly served their country.
They served America.

In 1918, word spread that the terrible war was finally over. The troops would be coming home. It was 49 years since the first settlers came. And now, in 1918, the town would come together and celebrate this victory.

Across the nation and in Herring there was great joy. The Armistice was signed. The great war had ended. The day before the signing the locals decided there had to be a party. Some of the men lashed two telephone poles together. Cakes were baked, everyone got cleaned up, and that night they had a bonfire, hung the Kaiser in effigy, raised the Stars and Stripes, and sang America the Beautiful and the Star Spangled Banner. Afterwards they all went to the freight room in the Depot and shared an oyster ”feed”. They were all very happy people, and the American flag waved proudly on top of the Herring hill. That was 1918.

Improved roads and the automobiles would soon doom most of these small railroad towns. Businesses would quietly close and the shopkeepers drift away. The Herring community remained, centered around the general store at the top of the Herring hill, and the elevator.

And that brings us to today.

It’s been 95 years since this flagpole was planted here in Herring. Today we commemorate that event. This old flag pole has not had a flag raised on it in at least 80 years. The creamery, the dance hall, the country store, the stockyards are all gone. The locals moved on or passed on. But this flagpole remains. For 95 yrs it has stood here in this field as a reminder of those who came before. It is a reminder of their sacrifice and courage and faith and patriotism.

The people of Herring dedicated this pole and it remains a marker to a simpler time, a community of good, sharing neighbors, with deep faith in God and their fellow man.

95 years ago a little 12 year-old boy helped raise this flagpole. Today that little boy’s great great grand daughters led us in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Today we honor that little boy. We honor all the descendents of this community.
We honor the workers, the warriors, the railroad and the farmers.
Let us never forget their sacrifice. Let us never forget those who made this nation great.

Steve King gave a wonderful speech today. It was such an honor to have him join us for the dedication. What a great guy and a wonderful conservative.

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