Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Dec 7, 2016

MP: 'Home of the Heroes'?

By Bill Gray

By BILL GRAY

Mt. Pleasant News

The most Medal of Honor winners per capita of any city.

In the United States.

So says state Sen. Dennis Black, D-Grinnell – not about his hometown, but about Mt. Pleasant. Iowa.

Yes, I’m using way too many periods as a means of emphasis. This is a big deal, an honor that reflects so well on this community. Black has researched and written a book about Iowa Medal of Honor winners, and made this assertion last weekend at a dedication ceremony at the site of Camp Harlan honoring the 12 Medal of Honor recipients who passed through that Civil War training ground.

Not every one of those honorees was a Mt. Pleasant or Henry County resident, the senator pointed out. However, taking in all Medal of Honor awards since the award was created about 150 years ago, this community has had five residents receive it, he said.

Black was so effusive in his praise that he urged Mayor Steve Brimhall, who was in attendance along with 50-some other folks, to promote “Home of the Heroes” as a motto for this city.

That has a pretty nice ring to it.

Of course, a motto or theme for the city of Mt. Pleasant has been a matter of controversy in recent years – and we don’t propose to muddy the waters. However, some ongoing recognition of Mt. Pleasant’s outstanding connection to outstanding soldiers who have so well defended our country is something to consider for ongoing recognition.

Having more than one way to define the community is a good challenge to face – as opposed to grasping for an identity, Mt. Pleasant is best known today as the home of the Midwest Old Threshers Reunion, but had a 19th century heyday as the “Athens of the Midwest” – to say nothing of the movement that made it the Iris City, or the more recent consideration of the community as the Heritage City.

Obviously, Mt. Pleasant is all of these things and more. But I must confess the Medal of Honor “heroes” connection was one I had not realized. Thanks to Pat White and Mick Mitchell for their research that led to the establishment of the Camp Harlan plaque, I’ve been educated.

As we read nationally about our fellow citizens losing track of the meaning of Memorial Day, it is heartening to observe how many Mt. Pleasant and Henry County residents were organizing and attending events that recognized veterans’ contributions. It also is heartening to observe how well-attended our local cemeteries have been on this holiday, which for many of us has always meant remembering and respecting all of our loved ones who have passed on.

If incorporating more emphasis on this “Home of the Heroes” will bring more people back to this kind of recognition — as opposed to observing this holiday mainly as the first opportunity to grill outside — that is a most worthy pursuit.