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Peggy Whitson

Peggy Whitson

In a year full of partisan contention at the Statehouse in Des Moines, lawmakers came together in commendable fashion this month for deserved recognition of an accomplished native daughter.

Peggy Whitson - who grew up on a farm near Beaconsfield and graduated from Mount Ayr High School and Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant - holds the record for most days in space, 665, by an American astronaut (the old record was 534 days). She finished her third deployment - a 289-day stint - to the International Space Station in September.

In a resolution adopted by both chambers, the House and Senate: "Congratulates Dr. Peggy Whitson on her remarkable lifetime of accomplishments; commends Dr. Whitson for her outstanding contributions to the development of international cooperation and for exemplifying that successful endeavors require the teamwork of those with diverse skills and backgrounds and relationships built on mutual trust and respect, whether on the International Space Station or on Earth; and thanks Dr. Whitson for steadfastly promoting interest in STEM and inspiring both girls and boys, no matter the size of their hometown, to dream big, work hard, and reach for the (moon and) stars."

During her visit to the Capitol, Whitson said she never forgets her Iowa roots.

"Everyone's always asking me what made you successful and I would say learning the work ethic of a farmer was a key to that," Whitson said for an Iowa Public Radio story. "My parents ... hardest-working people I know."

Since the "Right Stuff" days of John Glenn, Americans have venerated those who possess the courage, skills and knowledge necessary for manned missions to space. We imagine many Americans have, in fact, dreamed at one time or another of life as an astronaut and we know those dreams rest in the hearts and minds of boys and girls in classrooms of Iowa schools today.

In other words, Whitson inspires Iowans, regardless of background or age.

We join our legislators in honoring a woman all of us in this state should be proud to claim as one of our own.

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