Norman Borlaug was, by all accounts, a very humble man. The farm boy from Cresco worked tirelessly to improve crops and feed hungry people around the world. He never sought fame or fortune.
Yet his accomplishments stand tall, earning him the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and now a statue in the U.S. Capitol.
Borlaug’s work, his humility and his fervor were extolled last week by national and state leaders at the unveiling of his statue in the Capitol. Here are excerpts of some of those remarks:
Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin:
"When I think of Dr. Borlaug I think of those famous words from the book of Proverbs: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."
"More than a half century ago Dr. Borlaug surveyed a world where starvation and malnourishment were rampant and he had a vision—a vision of a green revolution. Because of that vision ... because of Dr. Borlaug’s tireless commitment to that vision ... people did not perish. His work was at the forefront of a 50-year period that has been described as the single greatest food production and hunger reduction in all human history. Not bad for a farm boy from Cresco, Iowa. Not bad for a kid who began his school work in a one-room rural schoolhouse."
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley:
"Norman Borlaug may not be a name known at every kitchen table. But this man is one of the greatest humanitarians who ever lived. Dr. Borlaug combined a brilliant vision, hard work, Iowa common sense and commitment. Dr. Borlaug will continue to inspire a generation of scientists and farmers to innovate and lift those mired in poverty."
Iowa Rep. Tom Latham:
"One thing that made Dr. Borlaug so successful was his passion and his focus of applying that breakthrough to get it out there so people can actually reap the benefits of his discoveries. He didn’t do anything for fame or fortune, it was all about feeding a hungry world and make sure those children, wherever they are, were not starving."
Iowa Rep. Bruce Braley:
"As we come here today we need to remember that Norman Borlaug’s legacy won’t be determined by what he did on his time on earth. It will be determined by what we do together to expand his vision of stewardship for this planet and the people who live on it. As Dr. Borlaug always reminded us, our reward for our labors is not what we take from the world, it is what we give back. So let’s get to work."
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack:
"I think if Norman were here today I think he would have wanted to acknowledge someone else. He didn’t do this all by himself. As great as he was, as visionary as he was, he needed partners, farmers in the United States and other countries. Norm understood that they had to be convinced that a better and brighter day was ahead and he worked tirelessly with those partners to make that happen."
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad:
"Norman Borlaug was an innovator who put science in the hands of those who needed it most all over the world. Dr. Borlaug’s accomplishments are also especially inspiring for Iowa’s young people as they pursue careers in science, technology, math and engineering
We hope his legacy will inspire future generations of Americans and his humble spirit will long be remembered. May God bless the State of Iowa and the United States of America."