The Presidential Citizens Medal was established in 1969 by President Richard Nixon ” to recognize U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for the nation.” Colson served as special counsel under Nixon from 1969 to 1973 and was later convicted of obstruction of justice in relation to the Watergate scandal. Colson founded Prison Fellowship in 1976 after his release from an Alabama prison as an outreach to prisoners and their families.
“For more than three decades, Chuck Colson has dedicated his life to sharing the message of God’s boundless love and mercy with prisoners, former prisoners and their families,” the White House said in the citation. “Through his strong faith and leadership, he has helped courageous men and women from around the world make successful transitions back into society.”
“Whatever good I may have done is because God saw fit to reach into the depths of Watergate and convert a broken sinner,” said Colson. “Everything that has been accomplished these past 35 years has been by God’s grace and sovereign design.
“I do not treat this medal as mine,” he said. “It is, like in the military, a unit citation. The staff of Prison Fellowship, the thousands of volunteers and the hundreds of thousands of donors have made this possible. So while I am overwhelmed in gratitude to God, I am grateful to all those associated in this movement called Prison Fellowship.”
Another recipient, actor Gary Sinise, played Leutenant Dan in the 1994 Academy Award-winning movie “Forrest Gump.” To television viewers, he’s better known as a star of CBS’ “CSI: NY.”
After receiving his medal, Sinise told reporters that he had volunteered to help the USO after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, sending school supplies to Iraqi children. The White House cited him as a humanitarian and a patriot.
“I’m deeply touched to receive this medal,” Sinise said.
Bush also recognized James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress, citing his work for two decades overseeing the world’s largest library, the Library of Congress.
A complete list of Presidential Citizen Medal recipients is available at The White House website.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.