Honoring Our VeteransWe're collecting profiles, photos and artifacts for our upcoming exhibit honoring Marion's Veterans of Korea and Vietnam. Tell Us Your Story»
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We have Marion High School students coming in this week to see the Korea and Vietnam War Veterans exhibit. While they are here we may take a few minutes to remind them that heroes come in many forms, and on this day in history, March 21, 1965 8,000 civil rights protesters started their march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. This was their third attempt--the first having been beaten back by state police armed with teargas, billy clubs and dogs in an attack that will be known forever as "Bloody Sunday." In Iowa City on the same day another kind of warrior, Stephen Lynn Smith, a 1963 Marion High School graduate, was camped on the sidewalk outside the Iowa City Post Office, in freezing drizzle, in the middle of an 8-day hunger strike to show his support and raise money for the marchers.
The previous summer Steve had joined 800 other volunteers from across the country, in support of the "Freedom Summer" project to help register black voters in Mississippi. Three of them disappeared in early June. They were later found buried in an earthen dam, beaten and shot by the KKK. Steve himself was assaulted the day he arrived. On July 15 he was stopped on the road by deputy sheriffs in Madison Co., pistol whipped and taken to jail. He spent three days locked up. He later told a reporter, the deputy "cocked the gun and stuck it in my ear. I figured I was gone." Steve tried to return to the South the following year but was struck by a severe anxiety attack-- they haunted him all the rest of his life. We would call it PTSD today. So Steve did what he could from Iowa.
In October 1965 Stephen Smith became just the second person in the US and first college student arrested for burning his draft card in a protest against the Vietnam war. He wasn't against the draft, and had even joined the ROTC his first year at the UI, he just wanted to "start a discussion." Five years in prison and a $10,000 fine seemed a small price to break through the deep public apathy. He got off with a sentence of probation though and court costs, but couldn't escape the FBI inquiries that followed him for years and ruined his career prospects.
Many thanks to David McCartney at the UI Archives for bringing Steve's civil rights campaign efforts to our attention. We're also grateful to the Linn County Witwer Foundation for the grant that funded the transportation costs of the Marion H.S. students, our exhibit labels and, in part, the videotaped veterans' interviews the students will see. Jack and Doreen Zumwalt donated the rest of the video production cost and prepared the digital records that will now become a permanent part of the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. See clips on our web site. ... See MoreSee Less
1 week ago ·
On this day in history, February 10, 1938, the Marion Sentinel announced in a joyous headline that the Rapids Machinery Company, founded by Vance Coleman, was relocating from Cedar Rapids, taking over the factory and equipment of the shuttered Handysack Baler Company, and would start manufacturing a new portable feed mill. Handysack had been a major employer in Marion since 1920, first making equipment to clean and bale the burlap sacks used for shipping cement, and then precision mixers for mixing cement mortar.
Coleman's dreams were shattered the next year, however, when the US began to prepare for WWII. Portable feed mills had to be mounted on truck bodies; trucks needed steel, rubber tires and gasoline. . . all were redirected to the war effort. Coleman adapted though and found in the old Handysack baler the perfect tool communities and military bases needed for handling and recycling the paper and rags the paper industry needed after the US was cutoff by the war from overseas paper and wood pulp sources.
After WWII Coleman resurrected his feed mill idea and found in the Handysack mortar-mixer the perfect mixer for blending in the small and precise amounts of vitamins and antibiotics users now demanded in their feed.
Rapids Machinery changed its name to Marion Mixers in 1986 and Marion Process Solutions in 2015. Today there literally isn't an aisle in a US grocery store that doesn't have a product mixed in Marion equipment, to say nothing of drug stores and anyone handling biomass and the flow of recycled compost materials. Marion Process Solutions--one Marion's oldest companies--still making history! ... See MoreSee Less
2 months ago ·
On this day in history, January 30, 1968 North Vietnam launched the Tet offensive and attacked more than 100 towns and cities in South Vietnam. The coordinated attack stunned. US and South Vietnamese forces but they regrouped in the next few months and inflicted huge losses on the enemy. Defending and retaking the lost cities cost the US its worst losses of the war with 543 killed and 2,547 wounded in just a single week in February. Though a major defeat for the communists, the Johnson administration couldn't convince the American public, and a huge "credibility gap" opened, ultimately leading to the US withdrawal. It's Marion's history too--especially for our veterans who served there. Learn about them in the current exhibit Marion's Veterans: Korea and Vietnam, reopening Wednesday after our traditional January housekeeping and maintenance shutdown. Marion History, Remember -- IT'S YOURS. ... See MoreSee Less
2 months ago ·