History of the Bush Award

By  | 

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is now the sixth person in history to receive the George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service, which was first handed out in 2000.

The George Bush Presidential Library Foundation established the award, according to their website, to honor those who have dedicated their lives to helping others.

"The outstanding performance and contribution of the recipient not only serve to highlight their achievements and President Bush's legacy, but also serve as an incentive to us all to take on the challenges of service to others," the site reads.

The first Bush Award recipient was former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. With a tenure from 1982 to 1998, Kohl is recognized as Germany's longest serving leader in history, and was recognized for his help in ending the Cold War.

In 2001, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev was honored with a Bush Award. The last leader of the USSR, Gorbachev's decision to end the Cold War peacefully forever changed the Russian and world landscapes.

President Bush and his library foundation went across the political aisle in 2003 in awarding Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts) with the honor. Kennedy, who has served in the Senate since 1962, was hailed for what the foundation called, "his political skill, his passion for issues, and his patience for the process of government."

A year later, California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenneger, was bestowed a Bush Award. The Austrian-American actor-turned-politician was honored for his public work, including most notably his focus on health and education.

The Reverend Billy Graham was the last person to receive the Bush Award until Gates. Graham is believed to have preached to more live audiences than any man in history, and was honored for his global reach.