Later this morning an Iowa native will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor — the Congressional Gold Medal. Dr. Norman Borlaug will become one of only five people in history to receive the Congressional Gold Medal, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Nobel Peace Prize.
Borlaug saved millions from starvation by creating new crop varieties. Leon Hesser’s biography of Borlaug is titled "The Man who Fed the World."
"You see him and you think he’s an Iowa farmer, but he’s also a scientist, a humanist, a diplomat in the good sense," Hesser says. "He has the ability to go into the office of the Prime Minister, as he did in India, or the president of Pakistan and pound the desk and say, ‘You’ve got to change your policies’ and they listened to him."
Hesser says the Cresco native is hesistant to take credit for hunger reduction. "Obviously he’s very proud, but he’s very humble, too. He says it wasn’t just me; it was a whole team, millions of people worked to help create the Green Revolution," he says. "But he was the spark behind it all."
Hesser plans to attend today’s ceremony in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda. Dr. Borlaug will receive his personalized gold medal from President Bush and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.
The ceremony is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Iowa time.