The Great Arnold Palmer
The Great Arnold Palmer joined the company of elite Americans like George Washington and Neil Armstrong, when he was honored for his far-reaching lifetime contributions on Wednesday by being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“He didn’t set out to change the game. But he did. Arnold Palmer democratized golf. And made us think that we too could go out and play, and made us believe we could do anything really. All we had to do was go out and try. You’ve struck our hearts and our minds, and today your government and fellow citizens are striking the Golf Medal for you.”
Arnold has become the sixth athlete to be honored with the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor that can be bestowed upon any living citizen, following Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates, track and field Olympic champion Jesse Owens, Brooklyn Dodger pioneer Jackie Robinson, boxing legend Joe Louis and of course fellow golfer Byron Nelson.
Arnold mentioned Byron and the respect golfers have for each other in his acceptance speech;
“It’s interesting that two of the six recipients of the honor have been golfers. I like to truly believe that golfers promote some sort of human value that symbolizes so many Americans, such as characteristics of honesty, hard work, dedication, responsibility, and respect for the other guy. I hope I can thank you properly and tell you how much it means to me to be here to accept this award. I’m very humbled, thank you very much.”
Jack Nicklaus, a fellow competitor on the Golf course as well as in business, honored his close friend, with a heartfelt speech built around the theme of the Arnold Palmer I’ll never forget. Jack reiterated the story about the first time he watched Arnold hit a ball, at age 14. He was standing and watching in awe at Sylvania C.C. outside Toledo, Ohio as Arnold hit piercing long irons into the rain, on the driving range before the 1954 Ohio Amateur Championship, which Arnold went on to win. Jack said;
” Arnold embodied the hard-working spirit of America, and he played a game we all could try to be good at.”
Among Arnold’s numerous charitable contributions include the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children, the Arnold Palmer Prostate Center in California and Arnie’s Army.
Congratulations Arnold, and I hope you have tried the putter I sent you.