It’s officially Iowa Museum Week as I write this and lucky for Team Goodvin we have one of the state’s most important landmarks not too far from our home. I grew up in Iowa City, which is less than 10 miles away from West Branch with all its familiar history. Now I bring my family to experience the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library & Museum.
Inside the museum is a collection of everything you would need to know about Iowa’s only son to become our nation’s President. From his birth in West Branch, to his humble childhood as an orphan, to his life growing up in California and all throughout his years in public service to our country. There’s also an entire wing devoted to all our presidents from number 1 to 45.
Many Americans have waged the debate on who was responsible for America’s Great Depression era. Hoover was the president at the time of its start and has and always will be apart of his legacy. However, their is another part of Hoover’s legacy that not all know about. But one afternoon at his library and museum you’ll see a side of an American president that is completely unique to Hoover- his efforts to heal a bitterly war torn Europe after WWI and its chronic food shortages. Hoover headed waves of relief programs that saved countless Europeans, many of them children. Being an orphan himself, Hoover felt the pain of the suffering in his own way. American ships came with medications, food, clothing and, for many of the unfortunate, a steamship ride back to the United States.
The grounds around the library and museum show a time of how West Branch would have been like in the 1800’s when Hoover was born. His birthplace is right on site and it’s the perfect example of how far you can go in life no matter where you’re from or circumstances you’re born into. Hoover only spent a few years of his childhood in Iowa before he was forced to leave, but those memories never faded away. His fondness to his birthplace became the resting place for him and his first lady, Lou Henry.
His presidency is just one part of Hoover’s life that defines him. Our 31st president was also a talented engineer, a tireless humanitarian, one of the free world’s greatest diplomats, and much more. To us, above all, a fellow Iowan.
Our museums are everywhere and house some of Iowa’s greatest treasures. From the proud county museums, roadside attractions and landmarks, to large buildings with rotating international exhibits to the small that have a phone number to call to get the door unlocked, they all share the same importance and are worth every second of our attention and need our support now more than ever.