A seven-year effort to commemorate this history of black and female soldiers who trained in Iowa culminates today (Saturday) in the dedication of the Fort Des Moines Memorial Park & Education Center. Fort Des Moines was the site of the U.S. Army’s first black officer candidate class in 1917 and first Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp. (WAAC) in 1942. Center director Phyllis Swink says the 20 million dollar memorial park will show how the men and woman made history. She says there’s one wing that’s dedicated to the 1917 group and it tells about them and chronology of what happened historically. She says the story of the women who joined the Army is interesting. She says the women were in non-combat positions in World War Two, and it tells that story. Swink says the black men and the many women were groundbreakers in our history. She says they came from all walks of life and all parts of the country. She says it’s significant because of the racial issues that were going on at the time. She says the integration that took place in the Army didn’t take place in the country until the 1960’s. Swink says they expect the center to get a lot of visitors. She says they know there are lots of people who went through the Fort, and there are some of those who went through who’re still living in the state. The five-acre park and museum will be open for tours by appointment after this weekend’s dedication.
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