On February 23rd, 1983 President Ronald Reagan awarded Billy Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The medal is bestowed by the President and is the highest civilian award of the United States, recognizing 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.”
As President Ronald Reagan prepared to present the medal to Reverend Graham, he made the following remarks:
“Reverend William “Billy” Graham’s untiring evangelism has spread the word of God to every corner of the globe, and made him one of the most inspirational spiritual leaders of the Twentieth Century. As a deeply committed Christian, his challenge to accept Jesus Christ has lifted the hearts, assuaged the sorrows and renewed the hopes of millions. Billy Graham is an American who lives first and always for his fellow citizens. In honoring him, we give thanks for God’s greatest spiritual gifts—faith, hope, and love.”
He added: “Billy Graham’s contribution to the well-being of mankind is literally immeasurable. Millions of lives across the globe have been enriched because of his good work. The world is a better place because of Billy Graham.”
Honor and humility
In response to receiving this high honor, Billy Graham said this:
“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.”
Finally, Billy Graham is one of just four private citizens to lay in state in the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.