Fort Des Moines (IA) (Images of America)

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9780738540689: Fort Des Moines (IA) (Images of America)
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Often referred to as “the West Point of the Midwest” because of its majestic red brick buildings and lush tree-lined landscape, Fort Des Moines shaped American history from its inception. Originally located at the fork of the Raccoon and Des Moines Rivers, Fort Des Moines relocated four miles south of the city and began to assume its revolutionary place in military history. By 1909, it was the largest cavalry post in the country, and Pres. William H. Taft chose it as the site of his “Great Tournament” of cavalry units. In 1917, for the first time in American history, African American officers received commissions at Fort Des Moines. Future president Ronald Reagan perfected his equestrian skills on its vast parade ground. The legacy of the cavalry lingered when, in 1942, the fort served as the first training center for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and many female recruits found themselves sleeping in cavalry stables converted into barracks.

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Penelope A. LeFew-Blake, Ph.D., is a professor of humanities who serves as an educational adviser to the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park and Education Center. She lectures extensively on World War II history and has written several books and articles on American and European culture.

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