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Presidential Medal of Freedom Announcement of Award to the Rev. Martin Luther King, It., and Dr. Jonas E. Salk.

July 04, 1977

The President today announced that he is awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Dr Jonas E. Salk.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Governments highest civil award. It may be awarded only by the President to persons who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

The citations accompanying the medals follow:

"Martin Luther King, Jr. was the conscience of his generation. He gazed upon the great wall of segregation and saw that the power of love could bring it down. From the pain and exhaustion of his fight to fulfill the promises of our founding fathers for our humblest citizens, he wrung his eloquent statement of his dream for America. He made our nation stronger because he made it better. His dream sustains its yet."

"Because of Doctor Jonas E. Salk, our country is free from the cruel epidemics of poliomyelitis that once struck almost yearly. Because of his tireless work, untold hundreds of thousands who might have been crippled are sound in body today. These are Doctor Salk's true honors, and there is no way to add to them. This Medal of Freedom can only express our gratitude, and our deepest thanks."

Jimmy Carter, Presidential Medal of Freedom Announcement of Award to the Rev. Martin Luther King, It., and Dr. Jonas E. Salk. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244250

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