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Why?

Why?
Dave McFarland

It has been an interest month at the Montgomery County History Center, some new additions, projects started and finished, lots of events and visitors. One group in particular stood out, a BBC news crew, Zoey Conway and her cameraman paid the Center a visit. Somehow back in Washington, D.C. the BBC news agency had heard about our local National Guard being deployed to Afghanistan and they uncovered a related connection, the fact that Red Oak had made news years back for having the highest casualty rate per capita for any community in the United States during World War II.
Zoey came to do a background piece for a news broadcast. She got more than she bargained for, it was not just World War II and it was not just Red Oak. It was Villisca, Shenandoah, Glenwood, Atlantic, Clarinda, etc. who were part of those early casualties at the beginning of the Second World War. In fact, it was not just World War II, it was Civil War, Spanish American, Philippine Insurrection (should have learn something there), Punitive Campaign to Mexico, World War I, World War II, Korean, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Zoey and the BBC came to interview and provide a little simple background, instead they ended up asking a very complicated question they could not seem to find an answer for: “Why are people from Red Oak (Iowa for that fact) so quick to volunteer?” They came on Friday and left on Saturday without their answer.
Being a fan of history and having taught the subject, it was not the first time I had heard the question. I have heard a few theories; most seem to side-step a satisfactory answer. I have my own thoughts on the postulate, Red Oak… Montgomery County…Iowa….United States have all been found by people, who fought for independence and freedom. Americans seem to have a very strong sense of what is right and just. I have been surprised by some of my own research and history. In doing historical research and genealogy for my own name, I have found that McFarland’s have fought in every war this country had fought since the French and Indian Wars back in the 1750’s. This seems to be a recurring theme. I have looked at Civil War rosters for the Civil War, World War I, or World War II; the weapons and style of warfare change, but the names do not. I myself joined the military years ago and would hard pressed to tell you exactly why, but in talking to one old veteran from Montgomery County I found the best answer. He put it simply, “It is what (serve) we were expected to do, so we did it. Our fathers and uncles did, our grandfathers and their brothers and sisters did, so we should expect to do no less.”