Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Farmer Capitalist

While I was walking around the Historical Society Building trying to find something that garbed my attention I immediately knew what I would write about. From growing up in Iowa my entire life and helping my grandpa and dad on the farm it was easy for me to be attracted to the display on the farming equipment and the diary entries from several farmers. When looking at the farm equipment it made me think of the definition in the Iwo Jima article that they gave for an iconic image. The actual display was made up of multiple images and events that took play hundreds of years ago and are still being practiced today.

Hariman and Lucaites stated that iconic photographs are widely recognized as representations of significant historical events, activate strong emotional response, and are reproduced across a range of media, genres, or topics. This farm display struck all of these emotions in me while I was looking at them. There is just so much history and tradition that was being represented. This display was a refection of the public's attitude towards the way they view and cherish their life on the farm.

The same equipment that was used many, many years ago to produce food and create a living for families is still used and practiced today. There was a quote that stood out to me describing why people would move to Iowa, "people moving to Iowa for farming and is good for the family." Even back then farming was a form of identity for people and families and they cherished their time on the farm as an iconic event taking place. Even though the prices have changed the same tools are still being used to make the food that we eat.

-Brekka Spellman

With a Plow in His Rear

The title of this blog, With a Plow in His Rear, is the wording used to describe the state seal of Iowa. This description was recently challenged by Rep. Ray Zirkelbach who proposed a bill that would change the wording. Apparently a plow in his rear means something different today than it did 163 years ago. Regardless of what the description says or means, the image of plow was a central theme to the state of Iowa when it was founded and remains a symbol that represents the state today. Visible in multiple sections at the State of Iowa Historical Museum were some of the earliest and primitive plows, to larger plows pulled by team of oxen, and even a hand-held practice plow you could try for yourself. The plow is more then just a farming tool. It represents agriculture, hard work, and the state of Iowa.

It is not surprising that a plow might symbolize the state of Iowa. A plow is used to turn the soil in a field. The field is used to grow agricultural products. Iowa is known worldwide for producing agricultural products. The state of Iowa offers much more than just fields of corn. Des Moines is a hub for insurance companies worldwide. Cedar Rapids hosts companies such as AEGON, Rockwell Collins, and industrial businesses. People outside of Iowa probably do not know these businesses are located in Iowa. People who live outside of Iowa associate Iowa with agriculture, and Iowa should be associated with agriculture. Take a drive from Des Moines to Cedar Rapids and 95% of the scenery will be of corn or soybean fields. Iowa has a lot to offer but on the top of that list is Iowa’s rich soil which used to be plowed manually by farmers.

Does anything symbolize hard work more than having to push a plow through the Earth all day? I am not sure if anyone tried to push the plow demonstration at the State Historical Center, but it was not exactly easy and I could not imagine doing that all day long (and only covering two acres of land). A plow symbolizes being out in the fields, doing hard manual labor, having some sweat on your brow, and knowing you accomplished something today. I think that is a great description of the state of Iowa and the people that live here. Iowans are known for being generous, friendly people who work hard for everything that they have. From agricultural roots, the people of this state maintain the work ethic that farmers using hand-held plows instilled in the fields many generations ago.

Cory Walter

How does a new citizen view an iconic photo?

I think the most interesting thing at the Iowa Historical Building was the citizenship ceremony taking place in the main lobby. The people there were celebrating their new right to vote and can now look at the US flag and claim it as their own. I wonder if these new citizens look at iconic American photos, like the one taken at Iwo Jima, and feel the American the egalitarianism, nationalism, and civic republicanism described in the Hariman and Lucaites essay.

Egalitarianism is defined on as asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, esp. in political, economic, or social life. Each man in the Iwo Jima photo is poised to show his job in raising the flag is equally important. Egalitarianism is a core value of the United States, so each new citizen was in a similar position to the men in the photo.

The nationalism exhibited in the Iwo Jima photo, as described by Hariman and Lucaites, is evident through the flag as national symbol signifying the values of our US society. The people who immigrated to the US and are becoming citizens can look upon a photo like Iwo Jima and relate to the pride the soldiers felt raising the flag.

The civic republicanism described in the Hariman and Lucaites essay is a more abstract aspect of the iconic photo. The people at the citizenship ceremony have chosen to become citizens of the US because of the republicanism throughout the country. It is difficult to look at the photo of the soldiers raising the flag on Iwo Jima and think of the republicanism they may represent, but it can more easily be thought that the new citizens have chosen the US because of the strong republic it is.

The historical society of Iowa was an educational trip more because of the event occurring during our visit than the exhibits. I had never seen a citizenship ceremony before and was surprised how many people were in attendance. I believe it is great that so many people can become citizens no matter how they may look upon an American Iconic photo like Iwo Jima.