Institute Board Member accepts award from President Clinton and Congressional Leaders.
President Bill Clinton, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh,
Senator Strom Thurmond, President Pro Tempore of the Senate,
& Representative Dennis Hastert, Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The presentation took place in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
(White House Photo)
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a special ceremony at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, member of the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace, was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. One of the nation's highest civilian honors, the medal was presented to Father Hesburgh by President Bill Clinton on behalf of Congress in recognition of Hesburgh's many distinguished contributions to civil rights, higher education, and service to the global humanitarian community. First awarded to General George Washington in 1776, the Congressional Gold Medal is awarded annually by Congress. Since its creation, approximately 250 other medals have been awarded, with other notable recipients including Winston Churchill, Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and General Colin Powell.
Reflecting on her many years of working with Father Hesburgh, U.S. Institute of Peace Executive Vice President Dr. Harriet Hentges noted: "Father Hesburgh is a national treasure -- a man deeply committed to the causes of peace and justice. These are the themes of his life's work. He has distinguished himself by sharing his extraordinary talents beyond the boundaries of Notre Dame to touch the world. His deep faith motivates him, and all benefit from it. His contributions have been immeasurable and his commitment is an inspiration to the entire Institute family. We are extremely pleased to see his unique and substantial efforts recognized by Congress in this way."
With a distinguished career of almost fifty years in education and public service, Father Hesburgh is a widely recognized international leader in higher education, and has held 15 presidential appointments working with Democratic and Republican Administrations alike. He was charter member of the United States Commission on Civil rights in 1957 and served for several years as its chairperson from 1969 to 1972.
As a member of President Ford's Presidential Clemency Board, he played a leading role in deciding the fate of persons charges with offenses committed during the Vietnam Conflict and played a key role as chairman of the Board of the Overseas Development Council in leading an initiative to avert mass starvation in Cambodia in the late 1970's.
In recognition of Father Hesburgh's contributions to public service, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964. Hesburgh has also been the recipient of the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from the National Catholic Education Association and over 130 honorary degrees. Father Hesburgh is president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame and has been a member of the board of directors of the U.S. Institute of Peace since 1991.
The United States Institute of Peace is an independent organization created and funded by Congress to promote research, education, and training on the resolution of international conflicts.