Freedom Rock Countdown

—8th Gun Salute . . . Spanish-American War


CRESCO - Meet Mike and Cindy Yslas. Veterans. Freedom Rock and American Legion Post 135 members. And yes, they are married (to each other). This week’s gun salute is to the Spanish-American War, lasting a mere three months, four weeks and two days. It was fought between Spain and the United States, after Spain declared war on the United States because the U.S. supported Cuba’s desire to be independent of Spanish rule. 
We ‘Remember the Maine,’ but we don’t really understand it. In January 1898, as tensions flared, the battleship USS Maine was sent to Havana to protect American interests and civilians there. On Feb. 15, a massive explosion sank the vessel, killing 266 sailors. Sensationalist newspaper articles and advocates of war accused the Spanish of destroying the ship. 
With the rallying cry “Remember the Maine!” galvanizing Americans, President William McKinley reluctantly signed a resolution supporting Cuban independence and threatening Spain with military action. 
Today, however, experts generally doubt the Spanish had a hand in Maine’s demise and was caused by how the ship’s ammunition was stored, its coal bunker, and the ship’s design. Famously led by future president Theodore Roosevelt, the 1st U.S. Volunteer Cavalry played a key—though likely exaggerated—role in the decisive Battle of San Juan Hill and took part in other confrontations of the Spanish-American War. The unit’s title and nickname notwithstanding, this crew of cowboys, sheriffs, outlaws and elites did very little riding. That’s because transport constraints forced the soldiers to abandon nearly all their horses and mules in Florida when they shipped out to Cuba. 
While Roosevelt did indeed saddle up to lead his men, most of the Rough Riders fought on foot. After the victory, Roosevelt was assigned as the Governor of New York State. Interestingly, when Roosevelt was President, he signed a treaty with Cuba to lease Guantánamo Bay for about $4,000 annually. Though rent is still paid to this day, Cuba’s government refuses to cash the checks. Guantánamo Bay Naval Base, sometimes called Gitmo, is now America’s oldest overseas military installation. 
Due to the Spanish-American war, the Treaty of Paris was signed on Dec. 10, 1898. As a result of the war, Puerto Rico and Guam were ceded by the Spanish to the Americans, Cuba became an independent state and the U.S. bought the Philippines for $20 million. 
Mike and Cindy Yslas will tell that there are two important supplies every good soldier needs — a sturdy filing cabinet and candy. Mike, being the Financial Officer for the Freedom Rock project, will tell a vertical filing cabinet is a must. Invented in 1898, the vertical filing cabinet has an Iowa story. After WWII, the Home-O-Nize Company was established in Muscatine, Iowa to provide returning veterans with jobs. Founded to produce steel kitchen cabinets, the limited availability of steel hampered that goal. After a small amount of steel was secured, the company started manufacturing steel index card boxes and eventually filing cabinets. Vertical filing cabinets were more cost-effective and a commercial success. Home-O-Nize never did make kitchen cabinets and in 1961, changed their name to HON. Today, they are a division of HNI Corporation and the predominant North American manufacturer and marketer of filing cabinets. 
After a long day of watching Mike file papers, Cindy says a handful of candy corn hits the spot. Although candy corn has been around since 1880, it became the tri-colored candy corn we know today in 1898. The Goelitz Confectionary Company became the nation’s largest producer of fakecorn and marketed creatively as “Chicken Feed” in a box with a rooster on the front. 
At least five people are buried in Howard County who fought in the Spanish-American War and Mike and Cindy Yslas invite you to learn more at the dedication of the Howard County Memorial Park featuring the Freedom Rock on June 23, 2018 
[This weekly countdown will feature members of the Freedom Rock Committee and information about military history. The Howard County Memorial Park, with the Freedom Rock as a focal point, is located at the crossroads of Hwy. 9 and 3rd St. West in Cresco.]

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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