High-ranking officers of the U.S. Army and Navy sat on a platform in Waterloo, Iowa, with Deere & Company officials on Aug. 20, 1942 to present the company with the prestigious Army Navy “E” Award. A crowd including an estimated 4,000 employees of the two John Deere plants in Waterloo gathered under the hot sun to witness the presentation of the award, the first of its kind, to Deere & Company for excellence in war production.
George A. Wilson, governor of Iowa, congratulated the company on the honor, and company president, Burton F. Peek, accepted the award along with Mr. Alfred Daugherty, employee representative.
“We have turned our plowshares into swords,” Mr. Peek said is his acceptance speech. “It is my privilege to accept this award. I cannot say that I accept it with pleasure, for there is no pleasure in war. But there is a satisfaction in a duty well performed, and it is more than gratifying to us, to know that out here in the midst of the Iowa cornfields, our companies, with all our employees, are the first in the farm implement manufacturers to receive this unusual award. And that, in the great task of ‘keeping’em rolling,’ the products of Waterloo played so large a part.”
A Look Back at the Ceremony
Thousands of John Deere employees gathered to witness the historical presentation.