The Presidential Medal of Freedom

November 4, 2020

The highest honor a sitting president can give to a civilian citizen of the United States is the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The medal is given to those who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” This award was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963, replacing the former “Medal of Freedom” award established by President Harry Truman to honor civilian service during World War II.

Ronald Reagan awards Billy Graham with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1983

President Ronald Reagan awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Billy Graham on February 23, 1983. Of the honor, Billy said, “I felt unworthy of the honor, and still do. But whatever else it means, it will always remind me of the generosity and friendship of a remarkable man and a warm and enduring friend, Ronald Wilson Reagan.”

Pastors to Presidents Special Display

Billy Graham’s Presidential Medal of Freedom is currently on display at the Billy Graham Library as part of its Pastor to Presidents special exhibit, which is on display now through December 31.

To find out more and to plan your visit, go to

The Billy Graham Library is featuring an exhibit Pastor to Presidents highlighting Billy Graham’s friendships with our nation’s Executive Office. The exhibit runs through December 31, 2020. For more information on the exhibit, visit

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