“President Hinckley Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom,” Ensign, Sept. 2004, 74–75
President Gordon B. Hinckley spent his 94th birthday in Washington, D.C., where U.S. President George W. Bush awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.
In his remarks on 23 June 2004, President Bush said, “Millions of Americans reserve a special respect for Gordon B. Hinckley, who still works every day as President of the Mormon Church, and who, on this very day, turns 94 years old.
“Mr. Hinckley is the grandson of Mormon pioneers and has given devoted service to his church since 1935. He’s always shown the heart of a servant and the gifts of a leader. Through his discipline and faithfulness, he has proven a worthy successor to the many fine leaders before him. His church has given him its highest position of trust, and today this wise and patriotic man receives his country’s highest civil honor.”
President Hinckley expressed his appreciation before receiving the award. He said, “I am profoundly grateful. In a larger sense, it recognizes and honors the Church, which has given me so many opportunities and whose interests I have tried to serve.
“To the Church, to my associates, and to our people everywhere, I extend my gratitude and with each of you share the honor of this recognition.”
President Hinckley was one of 13 recipients. Another was Pope John Paul II, who received his medal when President Bush visited the Vatican a few weeks earlier.
The official written citation with the award states, “As the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and throughout his nearly 70 years in Church leadership, Gordon B. Hinckley has inspired millions and has led efforts to improve humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and education funding across the globe.
“His tireless efforts to spread the word of God and to promote good will has strengthened his faith, his community, and our nation. The United States honors Gordon B. Hinckley for his devoted service to his church and to his fellowman.”
All five of President Hinckley’s children were present at the ceremony.