Carla Hills, left, trustee for Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, or GRFPF, and former secretary of housing and urban development, Red Cavaney, GRFPF chair, former President Jimmy Carter, Steven Ford, son of fomer President Ford, and Joe Calvaruso, GRPF executive director, stand together for a shot. Courtesy GRFPF
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation has selected former President Jimmy Carter as the recipient of an award recognizing his distinguished service to the nation.
Carter was honored with the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service on Monday during the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation’s annual reception and dinner at Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C.
Steven Ford, son of President Gerald R. Ford, said the foundation selected Carter because of the example he set.
“Looking at the current toxic times and reflecting back to President Carter’s and Dad’s times in office, through their examples we can learn how politics should be conducted,” he said. “They illustrated to the nation that politics can be handled with dignity, class and respect. My family and I are grateful for President Carter’s public service and how he has conducted himself throughout his life. We are proud to call the Carter family friends.”
Carter was unable to accept the award in person but recorded a video acceptance speech that was played at the event.
“As I reflect back on more than 25 different projects that Jerry (President Gerald Ford) and I collaborated and shared leadership, I can’t help but be grateful for the mutual respect and the intense personal friendship that developed during that time together,” Carter said.
“I am thrilled to receive the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service and I’m prouder still of the lasting friendship we still have with the Ford family.”
Carter’s service as president
Carter was sworn in as the 39th President of the United States on Jan. 20, 1977. During his time in office, he spearheaded the Panama Canal Treaties, the Camp David Accords, the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, the SALT II treaty with the Soviet Union and the establishment of formal diplomatic relations with China.
He is known for advocating for human rights throughout the world. His leadership resulted in a comprehensive energy program and the creation of the Department of Energy.
Before becoming president, Carter served two terms in the Georgia State Senate and was sworn in as that state’s 76th governor in 1971. During his inaugural speech as governor, he declared that “the time of racial segregation is over.” He said, “No poor, rural, weak or black person should ever have to bear the additional burden of being deprived of the opportunity for an education, a job or simple justice.”
Civil rights has remained a core priority for Carter.
Previous recipients of the Gerald R. Ford Medal for Distinguished Public Service include President George H.W. Bush (2016), John D. Dingell and Carl Levin (2015), John O. Marsh Jr. (2014), General Brent Scowcroft (2013), Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neil (2012), William T. Coleman (2011), Henry Kissinger (2010), John Paul Stevens (2009), Carla A. Hills (2008), James Baker and Lee Hamilton (2007), Men and Women of the United States Armed Forces (2006), Betty Ford (2005), Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld (2004) and Alan Greenspan (2003).
Journalists Gregory Korte, USA Today; David Martin and Mary Walsh, CBS News; and David Cloud, Los Angeles Times, were each honored as recipients of the Gerald R. Ford Journalism Prize for Distinguished Reporting during the event.
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation
The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation aims to raise awareness of the life, career, values and legacy of America’s 38th President. It does so through activities designed to promote the high ideals of integrity, honesty and candor that defined President Ford’s public service.
The foundation also promotes civic engagement and recognition of integrity wherever it exists in the public arena. It supports permanent and changing exhibits designed to promote historical literacy, conferences, educational outreach and other programs, both scholarly and popular, including at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum.