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Clark, Crowe Receive President's Freedom Medal

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Aug. 10, 2000 – Retired Army Gen. Wesley K. Clark and retired Navy Adm. William J. Crowe Jr. are among the 15 persons who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian award.

The two military men and other honorees, including civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson and former Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota, now U.S. representative to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, received the medal from President Clinton in an Aug. 9 White House ceremony here.

Established in 1963, the Medal of Freedom is bestowed by the U.S. government. It is given to persons the president deems "to 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."

Text of the citation:



Respected for his military expertise, keen intellect, and diplomatic skill, General Wesley Clark has distinguished himself as a soldier, scholar, and statesman. Graduating from West Point at the head of his class, he set a standard of excellence that has been his lifelong benchmark, whether serving in Vietnam; as a key negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords; or as head of the U.S. European Command. As Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, he led the 19-member alliance to a historic victory in Kosovo in NATO's longest and most difficult military campaign. For his outstanding leadership and dedicated service, General Clark has earned the respect and admiration of a grateful Nation.

Clark's citation hailed the retired general as a soldier, scholar and statesman, respected for his military expertise, keen intellect and diplomatic skill. It specifically cited his roles as a key negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords and as head of U.S. European Command.

Clinton paid tribute to Clark for his role as commander of NATO's longest and most difficult military campaign:

"In March of 1999 as Slobodan Milosevic unleashed his army and police on the people of Kosovo, Gen. Wesley Clark, NATO's supreme commander, was given the first military mission of its kind, directing the forces of a 19 nation alliance to end a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing," the president said. "The stakes were monumental.

"Almost a million people had been driven from their homes solely because of their ethnic and religious background. Success would save lives, strengthen NATO, advance the cause of freedom, democracy and unity in Europe. Failure would leave much of the continent awash in a sea of refugees and end the 20th century on a note of helpless indignation in the face of evil.

"Wes Clark well understood the perils of the Balkans for he had already played a vital role in ending the war in Bosnia and beginning the long process of building a stable, multi- ethnic democracy in that country. He summoned every ounce of his experience and expertise as a strategist, soldier and a statesman to wage our campaign in Kosovo. He prevailed miraculously without the loss of a single combat casualty.

"At the apex of a long and distinguished military career that goes back to his outstanding performance as a cadet at West Point over 30 years ago, he was assigned a challenge many experts thought was mission impossible. Instead, thanks to Gen. Clark, we now can declare it mission accomplished."

Crowe's citation praised the retired admiral, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for standing watch over America for more than 50 years. Clinton saluted Crowe as a scholar, diplomat and patriot. After retiring from the military, Crowe served as ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Text of the citation:



A powerful force for peace and freedom, Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. has stood watch over our country for more than 50 years, helping to preserve the liberty we hold dear. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he worked vigorously to increase cooperation among the Armed Services, improving the speed, flexibility, and efficiency of U.S. defense capabilities. After retiring from a brilliant Navy career, he served with distinction as Ambassador to the United Kingdom and has strived to reduce the vulnerability of American embassies to terrorist attacks. Sailor, scholar, diplomat, and patriot, Admiral William Crowe has dedicated his life to charting a strong course for America.

"As a young officer, Bill Crowe seemed to seize every opportunity for a nontraditional Navy career," Clinton said. "He took a leave to earn a master's in education. He passed up an invitation to join the nuclear submarine program so he could earn a PhD. in politics at Princeton. A few years later when 'Doctor' Crowe found himself named 'Rear Admiral' Crowe, he was quite surprised. Only later did he learn that Adm. (Elmo) Zumwalt that year had ordered all naval promotion boards to consider, and I quote, 'iconoclasts.'

"Bill Crowe has always been an innovative and independent thinker. He was the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs with a mandate to promote greater cooperation among the armed forces along with the power to reshape their respective roles and missions. He used that power to build a military more agile and efficient for the global age.

"From that chairmanship to his ambassadorship at the court of St. James in our administration, Bill Crowe has been the right leader for changing times. Even more, he has himself helped to change the times, to enhance our strength, advance the peace and quicken the march of freedom. He is an 'iconoclast,' but an immensely patriotic one."

The other recipients were:  

  • Jim Burke, former chief executive officer of Johnson and Johnson and chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-free America. 


  • the late John Chafee, a former Navy secretary and U.S. senator from Rhode Island. 


  • Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children's Defense Fund. 


  • John K. Galbraith, economist, public servant, educator and author. 


  • Monsignor George Higgins, champion of workers' and civil rights and religious tolerance. 


  • Mathilde Krim, biomedical researcher and AIDS educator. 


  • Mildred McWilliams Jeffrey, founder of the National Women's Political Caucus. 


  • Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York, high-level adviser to four successive presidents. 


  • Cruz Reynoso, lawyer, jurist and social reformer 


  • Simon Wiesenthal, a World War II concentration camp survivor and Nazi hunter.

Related Site of Interest:

  • Remarks by the President at Medal of Freedom Awards Ceremony (this link is no longer available)
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