(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama on Thursday awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor, to 13 Americans for their service to the country and their fellow citizens.
“They come from different backgrounds and they’ve devoted their lives to different causes, but they are united by the choice that they’ve made. They could have made excuses for doing nothing. Instead, they chose to help,” the president said at a White House ceremony.
The recipients, who were selected from roughly 6,000 nominations, include a mother and father who started a foundation to heal the emotional wounds of victims of terrorism following the loss of their son on 9/11, a woman who provides food and clothing to her neighbors suffering from the financial crisis, and a Vietnam veteran who founded a home for homeless and disabled veterans.
[Click here to learn more about the 13 recipients of the Presidential Citizens Medal]
“For our government to truly honor them, we have to do more than hand out medals. We have to follow their example,” Obama said. “And that won’t always be easy.”
“As individuals, as communities, and as a country, we all face the temptation to find excuses not to help. In these decisive moments, then, we need to choose between doing something and doing nothing. And I hope we will remember the stories of these extraordinary men and women as we make that choice. I hope they inspire us to put ourselves in another person’s shoes. And I hope that years from now, when they retell the story of our time, they will say that we, too, lent a hand to our neighbor in need,” he said.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio