Nicklaus receives Lincoln Medal
June 10, 2018
By Staff, PGATOUR.COM
- June 10, 2018
- Jack Nicklaus received the Lincoln Medal at Ford's Theater on Sunday. (Photo courtesy: Ford's Theater Society)
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ford’s Theatre Society celebrated the legacy of President Abraham Lincoln at its Annual Gala on Sunday evening, June 10, at Ford’s Theatre. A highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Lincoln Medal to entrepreneur and philanthropist Sheila C. Johnson and Jack Nicklaus, considered golf history’s greatest champion, as well as being a global golf course designer, ambassador, and decorated philanthropist. The recipients, through their achievements and personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy of Abraham Lincoln.
Nicklaus is just the fourth person in history—and the first athlete or sportsperson—to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005), the Congressional Gold Medal (2015) and now the Lincoln Medal.
The Lincoln Medal, first bestowed in 1981 to Senator Milton R. Young, is an annual award given by the Ford’s Theatre Society to a person or persons who, through their body of work, accomplishments or personal attributes, exemplify the lasting legacy and mettle of character embodied by the most beloved president in our nation’s history, President Abraham Lincoln. For more than 40 years, the Society has hosted this bi-partisan Gala, which provides crucial support to the non-profit’s theatrical and educational programs.
“President Lincoln’s believed in a United States where we are united by our commonalities, not divided by our differences,” said Paul R. Tetreault, director of Ford’s Theatre Society. “Since Ford’s reopened 50 years ago, it has been a non-partisan gathering place where people with disparate points of view can come together and find common ground. Our annual gala is a celebration of Lincoln, his legacy and his love of the performing arts. It has traditionally been attended by representatives throughout the various branches of government and by each sitting president since Jimmy Carter. The recognition of our national leaders and the enduring support of our generous donors enable us to share the story of Lincoln’s legacy with nearly 700,000 on-site visitors a year and many more around the world online.”
The gala performance was attended by First Lady Melania Trump; Vice President Mike Pence and Mrs. Karen Pence; and numerous dignitaries including: Senators Roy Blunt, John Boozman, Ed Markey, Rand Paul, Richard C. Shelby and Tom Udall; House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi; Representatives Joseph Crowley, Debbie Dingell, Mark Meadows, Ed Royce, Peter Roskam; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson; Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao; and Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross; Kuwaiti Ambassador Shaikh Salem Adullah Al-Jaber.
Among the many highlights of a highly charged, entertaining and emotional evening was a surprise appearance by entertainer and philanthropist Marie Osmond, co-founder in 1983 of what is known today as Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Osmond, a good friend to Barbara and Jack Nicklaus, flew from Las Vegas—where her and brother Donnie have performed their award-winning show since 2008—to introduce Jack and present him the Lincoln Medal.
Through tears, Nicklaus credited his family, represented at the gala by wife Barbara, and all five children—Jack II, Steve, Nan, Gary and Michael—for his success.
“Everything that has happened good for me in the game of golf has been because of my family,” he said. “They give my life meaning and purpose, and I wouldn’t be standing here today without their love, support and inspiration. So, my biggest thank you goes out to them.”
The Golden Bear also applauded the game of golf for its character-building life lessons and its focus on philanthropy, which set the example for him and gave him a vehicle to give back.
“I will never be able to repay what the game of golf has given me,” Nicklaus said. “But it is because of golf and my family that I’ve been able to give back something to what matters most to all of us: children.
“Far more meaningful than holding a trophy high above your head is holding a small child in your arms—a child whose life your efforts in some way saved, or who now has a chance to live a brighter future, at home and with a loving family. Children are our reward for living.”
The gala performance was preceded by a reception at The White House, hosted by the First Lady, and followed by a seated dinner at the National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum.
Sheila C. Johnson is an entrepreneur and philanthropist whose accomplishments span the arenas of hospitality, sports, TV/film, the arts, education, women’s empowerment and community development. She is founder and CEO of Salamander Hotels & Resorts; Vice Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment; founding partner of Black Entertainment Television and an impassioned supporter of women, education and the arts. In 2016, she co-founded WE Capital, a venture capital consortium to support female-led enterprises and empower the next generation of female entrepreneurs. Additionally, Johnson is a Leadership Council member of Harvard Kennedy School and founder of the Sheila C. Johnson Fellowship, which supports emerging leaders committed to reducing disparities in African-American communities through efforts in health care, education, economic development, public policy, criminal justice reform, social entrepreneurship and a variety of other fields.
Jack Nicklaus changed the face of golf as a player, designer, businessman, philanthropist and good-will ambassador. Nicklaus, known globally by his moniker the “Golden Bear,” won a record 18 major championships and is widely considered the greatest player in golf history. Champions of pediatric health care, Nicklaus and his wife, Barbara, lead the Nicklaus Children’s Health Care Foundation, which supports numerous pediatric healthcare services in South Florida and nationally, raising almost $90 million since its inception in 2004. Both were inducted into the International Pediatric Hall of Fame in 2010, and their charitable legacy was celebrated with the renaming of globally renowned Miami Children’s Hospital to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, and the rebranding of the Miami Children’s Health System hospitals to Nicklaus Children’s Health System, which includes 14 outpatient facilities located throughout Florida. Nicklaus is Trustee and national chair of The First Tee, which teaches valuable character-building life lessons through the game of golf. In 2017, he became a spokesperson and the Nicklaus Companies a Trustee of PGA REACH—the charitable arm of the PGA of America, with focuses on youth, military, diversity and inclusion.
As mentioned, Nicklaus is the fourth person in history to be honored with the Lincoln Medal, in addition to our nation’s highest civilian honors—the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2005) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2015). The other three were Lady Bird Johnson, Nancy Reagan, and Elie Wiesel, the 1986 Nobel Peace Prize winner and author of 57 books, including his memoir “Night,” in which he recounted his experiences surviving the Holocaust.
Past recipients of the Lincoln Medal include former NFL player Peyton W. Manning (2017), businessman and philanthropist Ronald O. Perelman (2017), civil rights activist Diane Nash (2016); Former Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice (2015); Congressman John Lewis (2007); The Honorable John D. Dingell (2014); human rights activist Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu (2010) and Justice Albie Sachs (2010); filmmaker George Lucas (2009); actors James Earl Jones (2014), Ruby Dee (2008) and Sidney Poitier (2009); Dr. Maya Angelou (2008); singer Aretha Franklin (2009); and Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, Former Associate Justice, United States Supreme Court (2008).