Lugar Awarded With Presidential Medal of Freedom
By Mike Perleberg
President Barack Obama awards the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Indiana U.S. Senator Richard Lugar.
(Washington, D.C.) – A Hoosier is among more than a dozen distinguished Americans who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the White House on Wednesday.
“This medal has been bestowed on more than 500 deserving people and this morning we’re honored to add 16 new names to this distinguished list,” President Barack Obama said at a ceremony presenting the medals. “We salute fierce competitors who became true champions.”
The president presented a medal – the nation’s highest civilian honor – to former Indiana U.S. Senator Richard Lugar.
Obama said the 81-year-old Lugar stands as a model of what public service ought to be.
“Dick Lugar’s decency, his commitment to bipartisan problem solving, stand as a model of what public service ought to be,” Obama said of the Republican who represented Indiana in the senate for 35 years.
The award was also a tip of the hat to Lugar’s decades of work in reducing the threat of nuclear weapons following the cold war. Since 1992, the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program has deactivated or destroyed more than 7,500 nuclear warheads and 530 intercontinental ballistic missiles. Numerous other missiles, launching and testing facilities, submarines, and more have been cleared by the program.
“His legacy, though, is the thousands of missiles and bombers and submarines and warheads that no longer threaten us because of his extraordinary work. And our nation and our world are safer because of this statesman,” Obama remarked.
The list of recipients also included former President Bill Clinton and talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Others were the late Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye, college basketball coaching legend Dean Smith, and Hall of Fame baseball player Ernie Banks, country singer Loretta Lynn, retired Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, feminist icon Gloria Steinem and the late Sally Ride, the first American female astronaut to travel to space.