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President Obama Launches Citizens Medal Public Nomination Process

Public Invited to Nominate Candidates for Nation’s Second Highest Civilian Honor

WASHINGTON, DC--In a video message released today, President Obama announced that the American public will be invited to nominate candidates for the Citizens Medal, the nation’s second highest civilian award.  For over 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has recognized Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” Past recipients have included some of America’s most respected public figures including Colin Powell, Bob Dole and Muhammad Ali but also everyday heroes like Oseola McCarty, a washerwoman who left her entire life savings to establish a scholarship fund for students in need. The President’s video message can be viewed HERE.

By asking the public to submit nominees, President Obama hopes to recognize exemplary citizens and local heroes who have significantly impacted their communities but who may not have garnered national attention.

“No matter who they are or where they come from, recipients of the Citizens Medal are united by an unwavering desire to serve,” said President Obama.  “And that’s why this year, we are asking you to help nominate candidates for this extraordinary honor who exemplify the kind of selfless dedication that inspires us all to greater heights.”

Public nominations will be reviewed by White House staff with the recipients selected by the President.  Additional awardees may be selected outside of the public nomination process.   The President will award the Citizens Medal in a ceremony at the White House in late spring.

Nominees must be citizens of the United States and fulfill specific criteria. The nomination form is available at www.WhiteHouse.gov/citizensmedal.   In order for nominations to be considered, all applications must be completed in full and submitted via www.WhiteHouse.gov/citizensmedal by Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 11:59 pm EST.

BACKGROUND ON THE CITIZENS MEDAL:

The Citizens Medal recognizes “citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.”  Executive Order 11494 (Nov. 13, 1969).  It is generally recognized as the second highest civilian award of the United States government.

The 2010 Citizens Medal will recognize citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs.  Specifically, nominees must be individuals who fulfill the following criteria:

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.

TEXT OF PRESIDENT OBAMA’S VIDEO:

“For 40 years, the Presidential Citizens Medal has recognized Americans who have “performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” This Medal is among the highest honors a President can bestow, and it stands as a token of gratitude to those who represent what is best about this Nation.

Past recipients of this award have included some of America’s most respected public figures – from Muhammad Ali to Colin Powell; Claiborne Pell to Bob Dole. But they have also included everyday heroes known only to the people whose lives they changed – heroes like Oseola McCarty, a washerwoman who left an astounding $150,000 – her entire life savings – to the University of Southern Mississippi so they could establish a scholarship fund for students in need.

But no matter who they are or where they come from, recipients of the Citizens Medal are united by an unwavering desire to serve. And that’s why this year, we are asking you to help nominate candidates for this extraordinary honor.

We want you to tell us about someone who has touched the lives of others; someone who may not get a lot of attention, but who exemplifies the kind of selfless dedication that inspires us all to greater heights. Their contribution can be a single act of charity or a life devoted to service – whatever they’ve done to help make this world a better place.

Just go to whitehouse.gov and tell us who you feel deserves this award. Then later this year, we will recognize a special few who remind us what being a good citizen is all about. Thank you.”

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