Obama to be honored for elevating the standard of political courage and for his enduring commitment to democratic ideals.
The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced on Thursday that President Obama has been selected as the Recipient of 2017 Centennial John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.
The Foundation issued a press release explaining that Obama had been selected “for his enduring commitment to democratic ideals and elevating the standard of political courage in a new century, adding that “The prestigious award will be presented by Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and her son, Jack Schlossberg, at a ceremony on May 7, 2017 at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum as part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of President Kennedy’s birth.”
The Christian Science Monitor reports that “Though it’s unusual for a president to be presented with the award so soon after leaving office, the Kennedy family and the selection committee agreed that Obama was the logical choice for this year, the centenary of President Kennedy’s birth.”
“President Kennedy called on a new generation of Americans to give their talents to the service of the country,” said Ambassador Kennedy, daughter of Pres. John F. Kennedy. “With exceptional dignity and courage, President Obama has carried that torch into our own time, providing young people of all backgrounds with an example they can emulate in their own lives.”
“Faced with unrelenting political opposition, President Obama has embodied the definition of courage that my grandfather cites in the opening lines of Profiles in Courage: grace under pressure,” said Schlossberg. “Throughout his two terms in office, he represented all Americans with decency, integrity, and an unshakeable commitment to the greater good.”
The nation’s most prestigious award for public servants, The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, “was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy’s family to honor President John F. Kennedy and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most,” according to the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation website.
The award recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.
Past winners of the award include noted individuals such as Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) who was honored with an unprecedented Profile in Courage Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2001 “for his extraordinary courage, leadership and commitment to civil rights,” Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), former presidents Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, and JFK’s brother, Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy (D-MA).
“It’s been more than half a century since John F. Kennedy asked us to cast aside our narrow self-interest and take up the chase of a greater ambition: our collective capacity to do big things, especially when it’s hard,” President Obama is quoted as saying by the JFK Foundation. “It was a call to citizenship as true as the words of our founding and a conviction that helped guide me to public service as a younger man – a belief in the possibilities of our democracy and the power of what we, the people, can do together.”
“Even today, amidst the noisy and too often trivial pursuits of the politics of our time, it’s a summons to service that rings as loudly as ever. Part of that is thanks to an extraordinary family that continues to light the fire of imagination and plant the seed of noble ambition in the minds of each new generation of Americans. Like so many Americans, I am grateful for the Kennedy family’s legacy of service. And I am deeply humbled to receive the Profile in Courage Award.”