"My grandparents and my parents came here in a covered wagon. In this community they toiled and worshipped God. The most formative years of my boyhood were spent here. My roots are in this soil."
Those words from his memoirs illustrate Herbert Hoover's connection to history and place. When Hoover died on October 20, 1964 at the age of 90, the 31st President was laid to rest five days later in this quiet, grassy hillside. More than 100,000 people lined the funeral procession route from Cedar Rapids to West Branch on that warm fall day.
Iowa architect William Wagner designed the memorial while working closely with the Hoover family to commemorate his life. The two plainly inscribed ledger stones of Vermont white marble are in keeping with the Quaker ideal of simplicity. Across the curved walkway, the American flag waves in tribute. Did you know that it was Herbert Hoover who signed the congressional resolution making The Star Spangled Banner the national anthem during his Presidency?
Past the towering flagpole, on the horizon at the end of the two rows of trees, is a direct view of the white, wood-frame cottage where Herbert "Bertie" Hoover was born. As the first President born west of the Mississippi River, Hoover believed that anyone could start from simple beginnings and achieve great things.
Pete Hoover, Herbert Hoover's grandson, reflected on the qualities that not only made his grandfather so successful, but encouraged the success of others:
The second marble gravestone is for Lou Henry Hoover, the tireless and intelligent First Lady from Waterloo, Iowa. Following her death in 1944, she was buried in Palo Alto, California, but was moved to rest beside her husband in 1964. Partners in life for almost forty-five years, they had both come back to touch the Iowa soil.