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By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times

Returning to Iowa in grand fashion, Hillary Rodham Clinton will appear next month at Sen. Tom Harkin’s annual steak fry, accompanied by her husband in a double bill that will close out a decades-long Iowa tradition.

Harkin, who is retiring after 40 years in the Senate, has long used his giant barbecue outside Des Moines as a showcase and testing ground for Democratic presidential aspirants. The event typically draws thousands of party donors and activists from throughout the state, as well political reporters from across the country.

The Sept. 14 event will be Hillary Clinton’s first visit to Iowa since 2008, when she finished a dismal third in the caucuses that kicked off the year’s presidential balloting. The stop also represents her most overtly political appearance since the former secretary of state began edging toward a repeat run for the White House.

Her husband, former President Bill Clinton, has appeared at the steak fry four times. Hillary Clinton appeared once before, in 2007, in the company of then Sens. Barack Obama of Illinois and Joe Biden of Delaware, among other contestants in a crowded Democratic field.

“What started out nearly 40 years ago as a handful of interested Iowans sitting around on hay bales, discussing politics, has grown to be an iconic gathering,” Harkin said in a written statement announcing the Clintons’ appearance. “This year’s steak fry just might be the best ever.”

Following on this summer’s extensive national book tour, Hillary Clinton is expected to step up her political activities this fall, campaigning for Democratic candidates and causes ahead of November’s midterm elections. A public announcement of her intentions regarding 2016 is not expected for several more months.

AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski

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Reprinted with permission from TomDispatch

When it rains, pieces of glass, pottery, and metal rise through the mud in the hills surrounding my Maryland home. The other day, I walked outside barefoot to fetch one of my kid's shoes and a pottery shard stabbed me in the heel. Nursing a minor infection, I wondered how long that fragment dated back.

A neighbor of mine found what he said looked like a cartridge case from an old percussion-cap rifle in his pumpkin patch. He told us that the battle of Monocacy had been fought on these grounds in July 1864, with 1,300 Union and 900 Confederate troops killed or wounded here. The stuff that surfaces in my fields when it storms may or may not be battle artifacts, but it does remind me that the past lingers and that modern America was formed in a civil war.

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