Borlaug medals memorable

Rural Cresco - Inspire Day, hosted by the Norman Borlaug Heritage Foundation, is all about the kids. Learning about Dr. Borlaug’s work on agricultural practices to feed the hungry is awe-inspiring and a little overwhelming to the youths.
The adults associated with the event are always touched by the impact Borlaug has on today’s youth. But this year’s fall session was even more special. 
Borlaug’s daughter, Jeanie (Borlaug) Laube, brought four special medals won by her father, including the Nobel Peace Prize. Many board members and helpers were staggered by the honor of seeing the medals up close, as well as touching them with gloves.
Former president of the foundation Barb Schwamman said she had tears in her eyes when she held the medals.
Jeanie’s cousin, Allen Borlaug, stood watch over the one-of-a-kind medals during Inspire Day and again on Saturday at the Borlaug barn dedication. Allen was a state senator for 10 years and was on hand when Norman received the Congressional Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. 
Allen said most people were taken aback when they saw the medals. It even touched him. “This is the first time I’ve seen them together, much less getting to touch them. It makes me shiver.”
Dr. Borlaug won many awards and accolades over the years, but just the four on display are listed below. In addition, Laube’s grandson and Norman’s great-grandson, Luke Larson, weighed each of the medals and told youth at Inspire Day how much the solid gold medals weigh.
• Nobel Peace Prize — Borlaug was given the award  in 1970 for his work in feeding a hungry world. He was credited with saving more lives than any other person. Although a scientist with outstanding contributions, perhaps Dr. Borlaug’s greatest achievement was his unending struggle to show how best to plant, grow and harvest grain. (Weighs 10 ounces)
• Presidential Medal of Freedom — This is often considered America’s absolute highest civilian honor. It is bestowed to recipients based off legislative and presidential approval. The award is reserved for those who saved and influenced lives in a powerful or innovative way. Because Dr. Borlaug saved so many lives through the Green Revolution and his work in plant sciences, he was deemed an excellent candidate for the award in 1977. (Not weighed)
• National Academy of Sciences Medal — Borlaug received this award in 2002. The honor is given to individuals who go above and beyond in their scientific research and have improved the quality of life and contributed a wealth of knowledge to the science field through their work and dedication to the scientific research process. (Four ounces)
• Congressional Gold Medal — It is one of America’s highest civilian honors and recognizes those who are dedicated to improving the lives of others through service and dedication. At the presentation of the medal to Dr. Borlaug in July 2007, President George W. Bush pointed to him as a testament to the idea that “one human being can change the world.” 
Recipients of the Congressional Gold Medal are each asked to put a saying on the back of their medal. Dr. Borlaug chose, “The first essential component for social justice is adequate food for all mankind.”
(One pound, four ounces)
Besides being the recipient of some very prestigious awards, Dr. Borlaug is just one of seven individuals who received the Nobel Peace Prize, the Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Others receiving all three include Muhammad Yunus, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Elie Wiesel, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi and Mother Teresa.
At one of her many speeches over the weekend, Laube said her father never set out to win awards. His first thought was to help people. 
When she and her brother inherited the medals, they could have put them in a museum. The Smithsonian Institute would be an appropriate place to display the medals. “We wanted to be able to do this. Let the people see them first hand.”
Dr. Norman Borlaug is an inspiration to those who knew him and those who are getting to know him better through visiting his boyhood and birthplace farms. 
If you haven’t visited in a while, check it out or visit

Cresco Times

Phone: 563-547-3601
Fax: 563-547-4602

Cresco TPD
214 N. Elm Street
Cresco, IA 52136

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