Arnold Palmer received the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday during a ceremony in the Rotunda of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. This makes him only the sixth athlete to receive the honor. At the end of the ceremony in recognition to his service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf, Palmer said, “I am very humbled.”
The Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom are the highest awards a civilian can receive.
John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, along with Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid were involved in the presentation of the medal to Palmer. Jack Nicklaus and country music singer Vince Gill, along with two Republican and two Democratic members of the Senate and House, also took part.
“Arnold Palmer was the everyday man’s hero,” Nicklaus said during his speech. “From the modest upbringing, Arnold embodied the hard-working strength of America … The game has given so much to Arnold Palmer but he has given back so much more.”
Two-thirds of the Senate and House members must sponsor an honoree’s bill before it can be voted on in committee. Once passed in the Congress, the bill then goes to the President for his signature. President Obama signed the Golf Medal legislation for Palmer’s medal in 2009 as Public Law 111-65.
It takes so long to have the ceremony because each Congressional Gold medal is made by the U.S. Mint individually to honor the individual and achievements for which the medal is awarded.
PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem on Arnold Palmer receiving the Congressional Gold Medal:
“Arnold Palmer is a legend both on and off the golf course and we are deeply appreciative that Congress has recognized his achievements and his character in giving this prestigious award. His impact on players, tournaments, fans, sponsors, sports television, volunteers and perhaps most importantly on communities where he worked, lived and competed cannot be measured but is deeply felt and will continue have a tremendous impact for generations.”