Tester: Medicine Crow to be awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

Tester nominated Crow veteran for nation’s highest civilian honor in 2008

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – President Obama will honor Montana’s Joe Medicine Crow with the nation’s highest civilian award, Senator Jon Tester announced today.

Tester and retired U.S. Senator Alan Simpson, R-Wyo., nominated Dr. Medicine Crow for the Presidential Medal of Freedom in March of 2008.

Earlier this year, Tester wrote to President Obama to request he give the prestigious award to Medicine Crow.  The White House said today that President Obama will give Medicine Crow the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a Washington ceremony scheduled for August 12.

Medicine Crow, 95, is a Crow war chief.  He earned a Bronze Star and the prestigious French Legion of Honor for his service in World War II.  Medicine Crow has earned two Ph.D.s.  He is a celebrated author, historian, lecturer and storyteller.

“Anyone who’s had the honor of meeting Joe knows he’s an American hero,” said Tester, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “Joe earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom a long time ago.  His lifetime of hard work, his devotion to the Crow Tribe and his dedication to this country will always be remembered.”

Medicine Crow is one of 16 people who will be awarded the Medal of Freedom on August 12.  Other recipients will include physicist Stephen Hawking, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, tennis pro Billie Jean King and actor Sidney Poitier.

During a news conference in 2008, Tester and Simpson announced their nomination of Medicine Crow with a slew of letters of support—including letters from Senator Max Baucus, Governor Brian Schweitzer, former U.S. Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., and filmmaker Ken Burns.  Burns interviewed Medicine Crow for his acclaimed documentary about World War II.

”Joe is a one-of-a-kind Montanan, and he certainly deserves this honor,” Baucus said.  “Montanans are proud of his accomplishments, and will continue to learn from him for generations to come. This is truly a special event for Joe, the Crow Nation, and for the history of Montana.”

In August of 2008, then-candidate Obama spoke with Medicine Crow during a town hall meeting with veterans in Billings.

The only other Montanans who have earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom were U.S. Senator Mike Mansfield and the late Martha Raye, an actress born in Butte.