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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: The Iowa History Initiative

After my most recent Freedom Update with Representative Steve Holt, I listened to his powerful speech on the debate floor regarding the Iowa History Initiative Act, which genuinely touched me.


He strongly advocated for an educational approach that doesn't shy away from the good, the bad, and the ugly of our history,

underscoring the necessity of presenting our nation's full narrative to our children.


This comprehensive view, as Holt articulates, is vital for developing well rounded citizens. and instilling a deep sense of national and state pride. His personal reflection on how a history teacher inspired him to join the Marine Corps, serving our country for 20 years, deeply resonated with me, especially given my father's legacy as a Marine and a Korean War veteran.


For those interested, I've included links to our entire interview and the legislation below.


Here is the entire interview.


I hope you enjoy Representative Holts speech directly from the debate floor in support of The Iowa History Initiative.  Listen HERE on Spotify or click the play button below.


You can read the Legislation HERE


I encourage you to consider reaching out to the Senate in support of this legislation.


Email: AllSenators@legis.iowa.gov Or use the link to find your senator:


This initiative is a step toward ensuring our youth inherit a rich understanding of our history and of our society.


Transcription of Representative Holt's Speech:


Speaker of the House: We recognize the representative from Crawford, Representative Holt.


Representative Steve Holt: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen of the House. My high school history teacher, Mr. Elliott, captivated me. I will never forget when he stood up in front of our classroom and he said the following.


Each of you will make it his duty to kill ten of the Americans before dying.

And he went on to explain that this was the cry of the Japanese commander, General Kuribayashi, to his thousands of hardened soldiers at Iwo Jima, about to engage United States Marines on that volcanic island in 1945. He told us that Marines landed on that volcanic island, were unable to dig foxholes and sustained horrific casualties.


He told us that in 36 days of fighting, nearly 7, 000 Marines were killed. He told us it was one of the bloodiest battles in Marine Corps history, and that on February 23, 1945, Marines raised the flag on Iwo Jima, that iconic photo that all of us know, that has come to embody the best and most noble, about the American fighting forces who fought, have always fought not to enslave, but to set people free.



It was because of that history that I learned from Mr. Elliott that day, along with the John Wayne movies that I watched a few weeks later, that I went on to join the United States Marine Corps and spent 20 years serving in the Marine Corps. I learned when I was in the Marine Corps and began to teach Marine Corps history myself that one of the flag raisers on Iwo Jima was a Native American by the name of Ira Hayes.


Johnny Cash wrote a song about him. Call him Drunken Ira Hayes. He won't answer anymore. Not the whiskey drinking Indian or the Marine that went to war. Maybe it would not be a bad idea if our young people were taught a little bit about this epic battle for freedom in school. That's real history. And it's the good and the bad and the ugly.


Maybe it would not be a bad idea if young people were taught about these sacrifices, about the fact that after Iwo Jima was captured, it was used as an emergency airstrip to save the lives of 24, 000 airmen and prepared the way for the final battle in the Pacific, which was Okinawa. And how about if they learned about Native American Ira Hayes that I just mentioned, one of the flag raisers for his story alone? They would learn about our mistakes in the treatment of Native Americans, but also about the nobleness of our national character that led Ira Hayes to fight what some Native Americans did not believe was their war or his war. Ira Hayes who was rejected by his people for fighting this war.


The flag raiser on Iwo Jima who became an alcoholic due to the wounds of war and the rejection of his people who after a night of heavy drinking died of alcohol poisoning and exposure to cold and he was buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery, not far from that Marine Corps War Memorial that depicts his heroic act as one of the flag raisers in Iwo Jima,

the good, the bad and the ugly of our American history,

would be part of this bill. It is not true that it only talks about teaching the good because you can't teach these things without also teaching the other. In his story alone, you can find the good, the bad and the ugly in our history, but also the noble spirit of our nation that is being lost in what is being taught today.


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And how about the Navajo code talkers? Navajo, Native Americans who joined the United States Marine Corps served as radio men for the Marines. But you see, their language was never written down. The Japanese could never break their code and thousands of lives were saved because security was maintained.


Should their story be taught as part of the history of World War II? They fought for this country in spite of mistreatment and mistakes, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and all that is most noble about this country. Should we teach about the Tuskegee Airmen, highly decorated African Americans who fought like hell for this country in World War II, in spite of the mistakes and wrongs our country committed against them?


Nicknamed the Red Tails due to the type of aircraft they flew, they earned a total of 96 distinguished flying crosses. You see, by teaching real American history, All bases are covered, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and the incredible noble sacrifices made for freedom by all races of Americans that's not being taught today, not like it should be.


I am in total support of this legislation because the things mandated to be taught are essential to understanding citizenship and the American character,

the mistakes that we have made, and the awesome sacrifices of those who came before us that allow us to sit here today and argue and debate in noble fashion in this chamber.


Also, one of the great things in the American character today, I believe there are many indicators that show we have forgotten that the most important aspect of public education is to teach good citizenship and essential to understanding the responsibilities of citizenship is to understand what Western civilization stands for.


What we stand for as Americans, what the fighting men and women of our country have stood for and died for since 1776, and in turn, the responsibilities that come. from being called an American. We have been so focused on STEM that we have forgotten that if we do not teach what it means to be an American, we are at risk of losing everything.


And we are seeing that play out today, young people, not nearly as proud of being an American as Americans who came before them because they have not been taught essential components of our history and our national character. Many young people today have learned from Chinese communist TikTok, social media, movies, institutions of higher learning, and unfortunately, a few public school teachers with an agenda that America is inherently racist and not worth fighting for.



Hence, our military struggles to meet recruiting goals.


They can name off a litany of mistakes we have made as a nation, but they cannot tell you who fought in World War II.

They cannot tell you what happened on December 7th, 1941. They have no idea about a place called Iwo Jima, a man named Ira Hayes, who the Navajo Code Talkers were, what happened on the beaches of Normandy or who the Tuskegee Airmen were or what they did.


But they can tell you that meritocracy is a part of white supremacy. They might be able to tell you about the horrific mistakes we made with slavery, but probably have no idea how many Americans died fighting the Civil War or what the Emancipation Proclamation was about.


I was taught many of these things in school, but I also heard firsthand accounts from family members who were part of the greatest generation who told me what they found at German concentration camps.


I had an uncle on Iwo Jima, and while he would never talk about it, one thing I knew when I looked into his eyes was that he went through hell for this country, and I learned I had to be willing to do the same. My generation learned many of these things from the source. All the more essential, since this is no longer possible, that we mandate core characteristics essential to citizenship and the American character be taught in our schools.


There is nothing more important that we will do this day or perhaps in the years I have served and will serve in this body for the future of our country and our children, than to pass this bill that restores to our public education system the teaching of things that at one time in our country were taught without question.

Those values, documents, events, and people essential to the American character and to the future survival of our republic.


I cannot wait to press the yes button for this legislation to stipulate that our young people will know in American history and civics about Western civilization, about American heroes, about the Declaration of Independence, the Northwest Ordinance, the Constitution.


The Federalist Papers, George Washington's incredible farewell address, the Emancipation Proclamation, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement, and so many other things essential to the great American character. Thank you, Representative Bowdoin and Representative Wheeler, and I look forward to pressing the yes button.


If you have enjoyed this article and interview, if you have found it valuable in anyway, please like subscribe and share.


"Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain."


Oliver Bardwell

Iowans 4 Freedom



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