“Port Jervis shaped us and Iowa City finished us.” We often say that, for Iowa has played a major role in our lives and personal development.

To this day, the Hawkeye State remains unforgettable to the three of us. We wrestled for and graduated from the University of Iowa. And we met our wives (who, too, graduated from the University of Iowa) when we all were students in Iowa City.

Today we maintain strong connections to Iowa. Ed and Kelly and their three kids make their home there. What’s more, we can’t wait to visit or go to football games or wrestling matches, especially the Hawks against the Cyclones! To that end, we look forward to the upcoming Big Tens and Olympic Trials, both of which will be held in Iowa City.

The hardworking citizens of Iowa show us that character matters and respect is earned—obvious attributes we value in our presidential nominees. Given these virtues, and many others, Iowa remains a special memory, reenergizing us during each stay.

But why is the State of Iowa, whose population is 3 million (1 percent of our nation’s total), so important to politics? Since 1972, Iowa has held the first nominating caucuses in our presidential selection process. Beginning in 1980, and except for 1992, every major-party presidential nominee has won either the Iowa caucus or the New Hampshire primary.

Every four years, the presidential candidates come courting Iowans. They visit churches, universities, Pizza Ranches, and so many other places. They engage with and listen to Iowans. This heartland state has its say in choosing the leader of the Free World.

The caucus process is deliberative, and it underscores the important issues at stake in our presidential elections. When Iowans caucus on Monday, the presidential selection process begins formally, and in earnest.

Best wishes to all candidates!