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1979 | Iowa
John Wayne is an All-American Hero ! My Personal favorite. . . "Courage is not the lack of Fear, but being afraid and saddling-up anyway !" John Wayne (added by Barbara Ennis Connolly)
Congressional Gold Medal and Presidential Medal of Freedom
John Wayne's enduring status as an iconic American was formally recognized by the United States Congress on May 26, 1979, when he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. Hollywood figures and American leaders from across the political spectrum, including Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Mike Frankovich, Katharine Hepburn, General and Mrs. Omar Bradley, Gregory Peck, Robert Stack, James Arness, and Kirk Douglas, testified to Congress of the merit and deservedness of this award. Most notable was the testimony of Robert Aldrich, then president of the Directors Guild of America: "It is important for you to know that I am a registered Democrat and, to my knowledge, share none of the political views espoused by Duke. However, whether he is ill disposed or healthy, John Wayne is far beyond the normal political sharp shooting in this community. Because of his courage, his dignity, his integrity, and because of his talents as an actor, his strength as a leader, his warmth as a human being throughout his illustrious career, he is entitled to a unique spot in our hearts and minds. In this industry, we often judge people, sometimes unfairly, by asking whether they have paid their dues. John Wayne has paid his dues over and over, and I'm proud to consider him a friend and am very much in favor of my Government recognizing in some important fashion the contribution that Mr. Wayne has made."
Maureen O'Hara, Wayne's close friend, initiated the petition for the medal and requested the words that would be placed onto the medal: "It is my great honor to be here. I beg you to strike a medal for Duke, to order the President to strike it. And I feel that the medal should say just one thing, 'John Wayne, American.'" The medal crafted by the United States Mint has on one side John Wayne riding on horseback, and the other side has a portrait of Wayne with the words, "John Wayne, American." This Congressional Gold Medal was presented to the family of John Wayne in a ceremony held on March 6, 1980, at the United States Capitol. Copies were made and sold in large numbers to the public.
On June 9, 1980, Wayne was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter (at whose inaugural ball Wayne had appeared "as a member of the loyal opposition", as Wayne described it in his speech to the gathering). Thus Wayne received the two highest civilian decorations awarded by the United States government.
Awarded by the President of the United States Type Medal Awarded for "An especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors." Status Active Statistics Established 1945 First awarded 1946 Distinct
recipients more than 20,000 distinct medals Precedence Next (lower) Presidential Citizens Medal
Ribbon bar of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a decoration.
HE Lit Up The Big Screen!
November 1978 | Williamsburg Virginia
John Wayne and Perry Como were in Williamsburg Virginia doing a Christmas Special for television. My singing group "The Sweet Adelines" got to sing for and meet Perry Como. We were supposed to sing for John Wayne too, but he had an emergency back home . We sang "You Light Up My Life" because these two men sure lit up a lot of lives, and we will always remember John Wayne for his "All American Spirit" and the Great Movies he gave to us! He was one of my favorite movie stars! Peggy Woodward.