Obama honors former President George H.W. Bush with Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama honored former President George H.W. Bush this afternoon with the nation’s highest civilian award, the Medal of Freedom, at an emotional White House ceremony.

“His life is a testament that public service is a noble calling,” Obama said. “We celebrate an extraordinary life of service and of sacrifice.”

Bush, 86, smiled and wiped his eyes a few times during the ceremony in the East Room, packed with cameras, senators, Cabinet members and most of Bush’s immediate family, along with friends and family of other medal recipients.

Obama spoke of Bush’s “humility and decency” and a career of service that spanned seven decades, from “decorated Navy pilot who nearly gave his life in World War II to U.S. ambassador to the United Nations , from CIA director to U.S. envoy to China to the vice presidency.”

The Democratic president lauded Republican Bush’s presidential accomplishments, noting that he “expanded America’s promise to new immigrants and people with disabilities. He reduced nuclear weapons. He built a broad international coalition to expel a dictator from Kuwait.”

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