Awarding Gold To The King
Sept. 12, 2012
By Katie Neal
On September 12, Wake Forest golf icon Arnold Palmer received the Congressional Gold Medal at a special ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which Palmer received in 2004.
Speaker of the House John Boehner, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi and Senators Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid participated in the ceremony, as did fellow golfer Jack Nicklaus and country music star Vince Gill.
"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."
Of the more than 200 people who have received the Congressional Gold Medal, Palmer is just the sixth athlete. The other athletes include: baseball's Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson, track and field's Jesse Owens, boxing's Joe Louis and another golf legend, Byron Nelson.
Palmer's career includes 62 PGA Tour wins and seven major championship titles. His commitment to children, philanthropy and fans helped him elevate the sport to a new level.
Last year, Wake Forest named its newly renovated golf complex in honor of Palmer. He paved the way for future generations of Wake Forest golfers, including fellow U.S. Open winners Curtis Strange in the 1980s and Webb Simpson earlier this year.
"When it comes to golf, the Demon Deacons have one of the best traditions in all of college athletics, thanks largely to the legendary Arnold Palmer," said President Nathan Hatch. "On behalf of the entire Wake Forest community, please join me in congratulating him on his Congressional Gold Medal."