President Obama welcomed to the White House 13 recipients of the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor.
Nearly 6,000 public nominations were submitted
“This year’s recipients of the Citizens Medal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves,” said President Obama.
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Like last year, President Obama is recognizing Americans this year whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals:
Who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home. Someone who has engaged in activities that have had an impact in their local community, on a community or communities elsewhere in the United States, or on fellow citizens living or stationed around the world.
Who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts. Individuals who have demonstrated notable skill and grace, selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way, taken unusual risks or steps to protect others, made extraordinary efforts to further a national goal, or otherwise conducted themselves admirably when faced with unusually challenging circumstances.
Whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. Individuals who have made efforts to combat stubbornly persistent problems that impact entire communities; for example, those who have taken innovative steps to address hunger, homelessness, the dropout crisis, lack of access to health care, and other issues that plague too many Americans.
Whose service has had a sustained impact on others’ lives and provided inspiration for others to serve. The ideal nominee for a Citizens Medal is a person whose work has had a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of others.
Among the honorees:
Ida Martin of Bluffton, SC who created Bluffton Self Help to assist working families, disabled residents, and senior citizens in the Bluffton, South Carolina area when they suffered a financial crisis. In 2010 alone, Bluffton Self Help provided 62,000 items of food to 11,600 people and provided clothing to almost 9,000 people. Additionally, Bluffton Self Help provided families with short-term emergency financial assistance toward housing/utility assistance, medical assistance, or children's program assistance. Mrs. Martin's philosophy is to help those who have the desire to help themselves. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for providing relief to many in moments of despair.
Margaret Martin, who after observing LA gang members stop at a Hollywood market to listen to a kid playing Brahms on a small violin, Margaret Martin realized those gang members would rather be doing what the kid was doing, but would never have the chance. She decided to dedicate her life to making quality arts education available to those in the most under served, gang reduction zones of Los Angeles, and founded the Harmony Project in 2001. The organization has provided instruments and tuition-free group and private music lessons to thousands of children in Los Angeles who would otherwise have no access to classical music. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence in children’s lives with music.
Michelle McIntyre-Brewer of Jefferson, MD, a military spouse, mother, and founder of Soldier’s List. She founded Soldier's List in 2003 to support high risk Service Members and their families.
“They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation.”
The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. Like last year, President Obama is recognizing Americans this year whose work has had a significant impact on their communities but may not have garnered national attention. In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals.
Video: For 2010 honorees click here. Our coverage here.