John MacVicar


Department of Iowa commemorates its first adjutant, John MacVicar

Cedar Rapids, IA

The first adjutant for the American Legion Department of Iowa, John MacVicar, held the post for one year, 1919-1920, and is Iowa’s only one-year adjutant.
John MacVicar (July 4, 1859–November 15, 1928) was a progressive mayor of Des Moines. His parents, John and Mary MacVicar, were natives of Scotland. The family settled in Erie, Pennsylvania, where MacVicar went to school. In 1882 MacVicar moved to Des Moines. John soon developed an interest in local politics and was elected town recorder of North Des Moines in 1888, and a year later became mayor. In the 1890s North Des Moines was annexed to the city of Des Moines. MacVicar was first elected mayor of Des Moines in 1896. Often touted as the "people's mayor," he was reelected in 1898, 1900 and 1928. He later served on the city council. In 1916 MacVicar was one of thousands of businessmen and community leaders who volunteered for a six-week civilian military training program held at the Plattsburg Training Camp in New York. After the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, MacVicar, at the age of 58, was assigned to active duty as an assistant to the quartermaster at Fort Douglas, Utah, on May 8, 1917. He was mayor of Des Moines when war was declared. After the city was designated as the site of Camp Dodge, with thousands of recruits coming from all over the Middle West, and with other extraordinary problems confronting the city government, it was necessary for the welfare of the community that the mayor should be at hand. At the request of the Citizens Committee he returned to complete his term and at the same time perform his military duties. In handling the problems of wartime conditions, MacVicar earned the lasting gratitude of the people of the city and the state at large. At the expiration of his term of office he was assigned to military duty at Fort Sam Houston, where he remained until after the armistice, being honorably discharged March 6, 1919. At the time of his death, he was serving as mayor of the City of Des Moines.

John MacVicar's grave

Rendering honors at grave visit

Past National Commander Dave Rehbein leading the commemoration ceremony
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