Statue represents State of Iowa and is installed on National Agriculture Day and 100th anniversary of Borlaug’s birth
(DES MOINES) – Gov. Terry E. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds are in attendance today as leadership of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, Iowa’s congressional delegation, USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other state and federal officials gather for the unveiling of a statue of Iowa native Dr. Norman E. Borlaug at the U.S. Capitol. A large delegation of Iowans, including farmers, students, educators, business people, and Borlaug family members have made the trip to Washington, D.C. to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Borlaug and Iowa’s leadership in agriculture and the biosciences.
Today’s Statue Dedication Ceremony at 10 a.m. CDT includes remarks by House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), along with remarks by Members of the Iowa congressional delegation, Gov. Branstad and chairman of the Borlaug Statue Committee Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn.
Statue artist Benjamin Victor of South Dakota is also in attendance, and the installation of the Borlaug statue becomes his second in the National Statuary Hall Collection (the other is Sarah Winnemucca of Nevada). Musical selections are being performed by Centerville, Iowa, native and renowned opera singer Simon Estes, and by Iowa City native and former Miss Iowa Anne Michael Langguth. The statue unveiling includes singing of the historic “Iowa Corn Song,” composed in 1921, which was Borlaug's favorite.
“This is a historic event for the State of Iowa and a celebration of our role in feeding the world,” Branstad says. “Dr. Borlaug is credited with saving an estimated one billion people around the world from hunger and starvation, so it’s fitting that we honor this Cresco, Iowa native and great American hero for his extraordinary agricultural achievements on the 100th anniversary of his birth and National Agriculture Day.”
“The unveiling of Norman E. Borlaug’s statue is a proud moment for our state and all Iowans,” Reynolds says. “Visitors to the United States Capitol will now have an opportunity to see his statue and learn more about his remarkable achievements and our state’s leadership in agriculture, biosciences and STEM education.”
Borlaug dedicated his life to breeding better varieties of wheat, and worked with farmers, scientists, politicians and others to improve methods and policies to alleviate hunger and malnutrition worldwide. His achievements earned him recognition as “Father of the Green Revolution” and the distinction of being the only American to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal and the National Medal of Science.
“I spent a decade working with Dr. Borlaug and he was the most humble, hard-working and inspiring person I have ever known,” said Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president of Borlaug’s World Food Prize Foundation and chairman of the Borlaug Statue Committee. “Today’s unveiling not only honors him and our state, but also will be a monument to American agricultural achievement in our nation's capitol that will inspire a new generation to carry on his legacy of agricultural innovation to ensure we have enough nutritious food for all.”
Today’s statue dedication ceremony is the culmination of a project that began in 2011, when the Iowa Legislature approved a resolution and Gov. Branstad appointed the Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Statue Committee to raise funds and commission an artist to design, create and install a statue of Borlaug. It is now part of the National Statuary Hall Collection at the U.S. Capitol Building, where each state is permitted to have two statues of notable citizens. It replaces the statue of U.S. Sen. James Harlan installed in 1910, which will be relocated to Mount Pleasant, Iowa. The second statue representing Iowa is of Gov. Samuel Kirkwood, installed in 1913.
The ceremony today can be viewed via live webcast at speaker.gov/live. Iowans are encouraged to visit www.iowaborlaugstatue.org to learn more about the Borlaug statue project, including information about how they can visit the statue on display long-term in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. More information about Dr. Borlaug and The World Food Prize is available at www.worldfoodprize.org/norm.
Gov. Branstad’s prepared remarks below are embargoed until delivery:
After many distinguished speakers, it would normally be difficult to add further acclaim to almost any individual. But Dr. Norman E. Borlaug was no ordinary man.
It is an honor for Lt. Governor Reynolds and I to help commemorate Dr. Borlaug on the 100th anniversary of his birth and it is particularly fitting that this celebration falls on National Agriculture Day.
Similar to Senator Grassley, Congressman Latham and me, Dr. Borlaug was raised on a farm in northern Iowa. His farm roots taught him about hard work and humility.
Dr. Borlaug and I also share a Norwegian heritage, which, as Norwegians can attest, helped nurture his unassuming nature and provided a solid foundation for him to dream big.
Dr. Borlaug was also a high school and college wrestler and credited wrestling, a key sport in Iowa, with providing him an intensity and toughness that helped him accomplish great things.
The statue of Dr. Borlaug replaces the likeness of another great Iowan – Senator James Harlan. As one honored Iowan enters our nation’s Capitol, another, who was a very dear friend of Abraham Lincoln, heads home to the Heartland.
Dr. Borlaug now joins the statue of Governor Samuel Kirkwood, a leader credited for securing more soldiers per capita for the Union effort than any other state during the Civil War.
Today’s celebration allows us the opportunity to honor all three of these Iowans and to especially share the remarkable story of Dr. Norman E. Borlaug.
Dr. Borlaug is a fitting representative for the State of Iowa. Our agricultural heritage has blossomed into a thriving bioscience industry, which leverages the research of Iowa State University, our land-grant institution. Iowa was proud to be the first state to accept the provisions of the Morrill Act over 150 years ago.
Pioneering companies and productive, hard-working farmers have enabled Iowa to lead the nation in the production of corn, soybeans, pork, eggs, ethanol and biodiesel. Innovative Iowa companies are making a difference: from feeding a growing world population to reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign oil.
Dr. Borlaug’s accomplishments are especially inspiring for Iowa’s young people as they pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, math and agriculture fields. Dr. Borlaug was an innovator who put science in the hands of those who needed it most, all around the world.
His statue inspires those who continue to sow the land and those making technology advancements in agriculture and the biosciences.
He was a son, a brother, a father, a grandfather, and a cousin whose legacy continues to make his family proud and we are glad to also honor his family with this celebration.
Dr. Borlaug was a farmer, a humanitarian, a scientist, and an educator, and his inspiration lives on in the many organizations, like the World Food Prize, that honor those who feed a growing world population.
Iowans are proud to have Dr. Borlaug represent them, as he embodied so many of the characteristics Iowans cherish like hard work, compassion, and service to others.
On behalf of my fellow Iowans, we now commend Dr. Borlaug’s statue to the care of our nation’s leaders. We hope his legacy will inspire future generations of Americans and that his humble spirit will long be remembered.
May God bless the State of Iowa and the United States of America.