Dreeszen: Iowa proud to be Iowa Nice

Iowa HighwaysEditor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of The Iowa Statesman.


By MacKenzie Dreeszen
Contributing Writer


I do not get offended easily. In fact, it takes an awful lot to ruffle my feathers, but I couldn’t help feeling a little bit hurt after I struck up a conversation with a reporter of a well-known “news source” that is directed toward Millenials at a fundraiser this summer. This reporter was from the UK, and it was his first visit to Iowa. He told me that Iowa is a very different from the UK or anywhere else he has been in the US, and he thinks it’s absolutely bizarre that a “random state like Iowa” would have First in the Nation status, because “these people can’t be truly representative of America”. I guess he didn’t realize that he was talking to someone who was not only born in Iowa, but has never lived anywhere else…by choice, I might add. I have traveled extensively, and I know that I could have left Iowa to go literally anywhere in the world if I had wanted to, but I decided not to because I love it here so much. Not only have I lived in God’s country my whole life, but I have lived the gamut of Iowa, including a farm, a college town, a small town, and now the largest city in the state. And I’m proud of that.

But I digress. I smiled and politely responded that actually, I believe that Iowa is very representative of the United States as a whole, because a significant portion of this country is agricultural and rural. I went on to let him know how intelligent, hard-working, and honest Iowans are, how much they love their country, and how they are the kindest people that I have ever known. He didn’t know how to respond.

This weekend, I was at an event at Drake University. I talked to a law student who attends the University of South Dakota, originally from Lincoln, Nebraska. All he could talk about was how he couldn’t wait until he could get out of the Plains states. He asked me what would be a fun activity for him to do in a “lively” (said with a distinct tone of sarcasm) town like Des Moines on a Saturday night. I suggested a few of my favorite “Only In Des Moines” attractions downtown. He seemed less than impressed by anything that I suggested, to say the least. I found it difficult to continue a polite conversation with him, because I was put off by his condescending attitude toward Iowans (especially since he was a Nebraskan. For real?)

Here’s what I think of when I think of my state: I think of a natural beauty that you won’t find anywhere else: The bluffs overlooking the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, the rolling farmland between these great rivers, the glorious pinks, oranges, and purples of the sunrises and sunsets, the magnificent autumn foliage in our woods, tiny towns fallen silent in the glittering snowfall, and blissful summer nights under the stars, with fireflies blinking in the dark. I think of fresh vegetables and fruits grown in our fertile soil, and juicy, tender meats that you won’t find anywhere else, washed down with unique, flavorful wines from Iowa vineyards or brews from our emerging microbreweries. I think of all of the professional groups in which I actively participate and how they have led to incredible personal growth and development, and the variety of job opportunities available to young people in our state. Many of the members of these professional circles are alumni of our high-quality colleges and universities.

Finally, I think of the character of our people. The ones who came to my rescue at a moment’s notice when my car was stranded on the side of the road. The friend who guided me in purchasing my car and how to negotiate a good price. The individuals who spend hours every week, generously donating their time to volunteer for their churches, political groups, schools, and other charitable organizations. Anonymous strangers who found my wallet and turned it in, with not so much as a dollar missing. That’s why it is important to me that we maintain our First in the Nation status in the Presidential Election. Iowans have all the qualifications that you could possibly hope for in selecting our nation’s next President and then some. So if you’re going to insult these salt-of-the-earth people, of course I’m going to get a little bit salty. Just sayin’.

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MacKenzie Dreeszen is a graduate of Cornell College and a lifelong Iowan. She lives in West Des Moines, where she fundraises for the Polk County Republican Party.