—by Mark Jackson, Story City Administrator
February is the month we recognize and celebrate the contribution of our nation’s Presidents. Most often, we think of such great Presidents as Washington, Lincoln, and the Roosevelts. Nevertheless, these three - Adams, Hoover, and Carter - served in and out of the White House with courage, compassion, honor and distinction.
John Adams who served one term as our nation’s second President was a brilliant, independent, and courageous man. While Washington led our nation in battle it was Adams who led the congress. Adams was the leading voice in declaring our independence and in critical moments during the revolutionary war secured loans to keep troops on the battle field. Our constitution is modeled after the one he wrote for the commonwealth of Massachusetts. One of his greatest contributions to our nation was in defeat. After losing the Presidency to his once friend, but now bitter political rival - Thomas Jefferson - he handed over the reigns of power without bloodshed or civil war. But perhaps his greatest contribution is the legacy he left behind. His son John Quincy served for many years as a public official including one term as our nation’s sixth President. Grandson Charles Francis served as our minister to Great Britain during the Civil War and Great-grandsons John Quincy II, Charles Francis, Jr., Henry, and Brooks served our country as public leaders, business leaders, and noted historians.
Herbert Hoover served one term as our nation’s 31st President. Unfortunately, shortly after ascending to the Presidency in 1929 our nation plunged into the worst economic crisis in our country’s history - the Great Depression. However, Hoover should be remembered as "the Great Humanitarian." During and after World War I it was Hoover who led the world in feeding over 300 million people throughout the world including Germany. In 1921, Russia was in a severe famine. When complaints about aiding Bolshevism reached Hoover he responded, "Twenty million people are starving, whatever their politics they should be fed." In 1939, when war broke out in Europe, Hoover established the Polish Relief Commission and for two years fed 300,000 children in German occupied Poland. Again in 1946, in the aftermath of World War II when famine once again threatened Europe, Hoover headed up the Famine Emergency Commission. Hoover organized the food of the world to sustain hundreds of millions of people until the next harvest.
Jimmy Carter served one term as our nation’s 39th President. Carter came to the Presidency committed to peace, human rights, and the conservation of our nation’s natural resource. During his Presidency he negotiated the Camp David Accord, a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt and established the Department of Energy with the hope of reducing our nation’s dependency on foreign oil. Unfortunately, an economic recession and the hostage situation in Iran (which he successfully negotiated the release of) worked against him in his bid for reelection. After defeat, Carter established the Carter Center with the purpose of advancing the cause of human rights, peace, and to ease suffering in our world. Carter has worked with farmers to increase production, eliminated the threat of Guinea Worm disease, and promote democracy and peace throughout the world. Carter is perhaps best known in the United States for his work with the construction of affordable housing through Habitat for Humanity.
Although each made mistakes, they greatly cared about people. The people of the world. Each sought in their own way to advance the cause of peace and democracy and ease the suffering of others. Each of these men, in their own way, showed courage in the face of overwhelming public and private adversity. They are an example that the true meaning of public service is to show compassion to those in need and to do what is right when it may not be popular. Each deserves our remembrance and our gratitude.