The Archive Collection

Archive Insider: Sylvanus Thayer Medal

March 2, 2021


Throughout 2021, we’ll be honoring our local heroes by showcasing items given to Billy Graham by law enforcement, firefighters, and military personnel throughout the course of his ministry.

The Sylvanus Thayer medal is given by the United States Military Academy at West Point to a person who demonstrates the characteristics in the three words of their motto: Duty, Honor, Country. A committee of former graduates from the academy meets annually to decide who will receive their highest honor for non-graduates.

Billy Graham was named the recipient of the Sylvanus Thayer medal on May 4, 1972. The top of the medal reads “The Sylvanus Thayer Medal Awarded by the Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy, for Outstanding Service to the Nation,” and the reverse side has the coat of arms of the academy and the words of its motto.

The Sylvanus Thayer medal presented to Billy Graham on May 4, 1972

Billy Graham was always very humbled when he received such awards, never believing himself worthy of such honors. He was known to say, “All that I have been able to do I owe to Jesus Christ. When you honor me, you are really honoring Him. Any honors I have received I accept with a sense of inadequacy and humility, and will reserve the right to hand all of these someday to Christ when I see him, face-to-face.”

To see other honors presented to Billy Graham during his ministry that spanned eight decades, visit the Billy Graham Library.

Plan your visit to the Billy Graham Library.