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Hospital Benefactor Receives Freedom Medal

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 1998 – Zachary Fisher, a philanthropist who, with his wife, Elizabeth, established Fisher Houses near military hospitals, recently received the Medal of Freedom in New York.

"I can think of no one more deserving to receive the Medal of Freedom than Zachary Fisher, because freedom has no finer friend," President Bill Clinton said Sept. 14 as he presented the nation's highest civilian award to the 87-year-old benefactor.

Clinton cited Fisher for his steadfast and generous support of the U.S. military. Besides the apartment-style houses that offer inexpensive lodging for families of hospitalized patients, Fisher sponsored the preservation of the World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid; funded a child care center at Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Calif.; provides scholarships for active duty members and families; and funds Alzheimer's disease research. He also has regularly donated financial aid to the families of service members lost in the line of duty.

"In the history of our country, no single individual has given more philanthropically to the men and women who defend our freedom," Clinton said.

Calling the honor humbling, Fisher told Clinton, "We share in today's recognition of our support of those who give their lives to protect and defend our freedom. We owe them no less."

Besides Fisher's wife, Defense Secretary William Cohen, former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili, the military service chiefs and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani attended the ceremony.

The award and citation will be permanently displayed at the Intrepid Sea-Air Space Museum in New York.

The Fisher Houses are designed to encourage guests to interact with and support one another emotionally. Each is designed to blend with the architectural styles of the area and has common kitchens and living areas surrounded by private bedrooms and baths. The temporary homes serve more than 5,000 families annually, according to the Fisher House Foundation.

More information about Fisher Houses is on the Internet at http://www.fisherhouse.org or by e-mail at FisherHse@aol.com.

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