Arnold Palmer Receives Congressional Gold Medal

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 23: Arnold Palmer of the USA during the pro-am as a preview for the 2011 Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard at the Bay Hill Lodge and Country Club on March 23, 2011 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Arnold Palmer was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal Wednesday, becoming only the sixth athlete to receive the honor.

On Wednesday, golf legend Arnold Palmer became just the sixth athlete to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal during a ceremony held in the Rotunda of the Capital Building in Washington, D.C.

The Congressional Golf Medal and the Presidental Medal of Freedom, which Palmer received in 2004, are the two highest civilian awards in the United States. Speaker of the House John Boehner and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi were involved in the ceremony. Fellow golf legend Jack Nicklaus and country music's Vince Gill were also involved.

"I am very humbled," Palmer said following the ceremony.

During his speech, Nicklaus spoke highly of his former competitor and long-time friend.

"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."

In order to receive the honor, both the House of Representatives and United States Senate must agree (!) on the bill proposal before it can be brought forth to committee. President Barack Obama then signed the bill into law in 2009 as Law 111-65 in recognition of Palmer's service to the nation in promoting excellence and good sportsmanship in golf.

Within the Law, Congress cited nine findings as to why Palmer was a fitting recipient of the Medal:

(1) Arnold Palmer is a world famous golf professional, a highly successful business executive, a prominent advertising spokesman, a devoted husband, father, and grandfather, and a man with a common touch that has made him one of the most popular and accessible public figures in history.

(2) Arnold Palmer amassed 92 championships in professional competition of national or international stature by the end of 1993, 62 of which came on the Professional Golf Association Tour.

(3) Arnold Palmer's magnetic personality and unfailing sense of kindness and thoughtfulness have endeared him to millions throughout the world.

(4) Arnold Palmer has been the recipient of countless honors including virtually every national award in golf and both the Hickok Athlete of the Year and Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year awards, and he was chosen Athlete of the Decade for the 1960s in a national Associated Press poll.

(5) Arnold Palmer has received numerous honors outside the world of sports, including the Patriot Award of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the Golden Plate award of the American Academy of Achievement, and the United States Navy Memorial Lone Sailor Award.

(6) Arnold Palmer was honored by the United States Golf Association with the opening of the Arnold Palmer Center for Golf History on June 3rd 2008.

(7) Arnold Palmer served his country for 3 years in the United States Coast Guard and was among those chosen to address the Joint Session of Congress on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

(8) Arnold Palmer served as Honorary National Chairman of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation for 20 years and played a major role in the fund-raising drive that led to the creation of the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Childrenin Orlando and the Latrobe Area Hospital Charitable Foundation in his Western Pennsylvania hometown.

(9) Arnold Palmer remains active in tournament golf, although he retired from competition in the major championships on April 14, 2002, when he played the last of his 48 Masters Tournaments, where he was given an emotional standing ovation as he finished the 18th hole.

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