My golfing hero, Arnold Palmer, received the Congressional Gold Medal today in Washington, D.C.
The medal is given to individuals, institutions and events by Congress in its “highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions.”
Among those previously so honored: George Washington, Charles Lindbergh, Gen. George C. Marshall, President Truman, Winston Churchill, Jesse Owens, Dr. Jonas Salk, Roberto Clemente and Neil Armstrong. Two hundred have been awarded in all.
Exhibiting both the humility and humor we have come to love from Palmer, he said at the ceremony that “It’s an honor to receive this award from the citizens and Congress. Of course, I’m happy about anything Congress agrees on.”
At least three quarters of the House and two-thirds of the Senate cast votes of approval in the original bill.
From Congress’ findings:
Congress finds the following:
(1) Arnold Palmer is a world famous golf professional, a highly successful business executive, a prominent advertising spokesman, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and a man with a common touch that has made him one of the most popular and accessible public figures in history.
(2) Arnold Palmer amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature by the end of 1993, 62 of which came on the Professional Golf Association Tour.
(3) Arnold Palmer’s magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness and thoughtfulness have endeared him to millions throughout the world.
(4) Arnold Palmer has been the recipient of countless honors including virtually every national award in golf and both the Hickok Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated’s Sportsman of the Year awards, and he was chosen Athlete of the Decade for the 1960s in a national Associated Press poll.
(5) Arnold Palmer has received numerous honors outside the world of sports, including the Patriot Award of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the Golden Plate award of the American Academy of Achievement, and the United States Navy Memorial Lone Sailor Award.
(6) Arnold Palmer was honored by the United States Golf Association with the opening of the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History on June 3rd 2008.
(7) Arnold Palmer served his country for 3 years in the United States Coast Guard and was among those chosen to address the Joint Session of Congress on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
(8) Arnold Palmer served as Honorary National Chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years and played a major role in the fund-raising drive that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children in Orlando and the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation in his Western Pennsylvania hometown.
(9) Arnold Palmer remains active in tournament golf, although he retired from competition in the major championships on April 14, 2002, when he played the last of his 48 Masters Tournaments, where he was given an emotional
standing ovation as he finished the 18th hole.
You can view the resolution here.
Palmer’s medal was approved by Congress in 2009, but it has taken until now to present it.
Byron Nelson was the first professional golfer to be honored with a Congressional Gold Medal.
Previously, Palmer had been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush in 2004. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is given to those who have made especially meritorious contributions to the national interests of the United States, to world peace or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
I hope I get the chance to meet Mr. Palmer some day.