As the year draws to an end, Donald Trump has scored many firsts as president of the United States. Most of them are bad, unprecedented, and unbecoming to the office.
But there is one glaring difference between Trump so far and the last 70 years’ worth of presidents. Trump has not awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Medal of Freedom was established by Harry Truman in 1945. Dwight Eisenhower was less enthusiastic (he gave out a handful). But in 1961 John F. Kennedy revived the medal, and every president since then– even Richard Nixon– handed out annual medals in a ceremony.
Gerald Ford was only president for two years, but he awarded 28 different people with the Medal of Honor.
Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush held annual ceremonies.
Bill Clinton was a big fan of the Medal of Freedom, and so was George W. Bush. It didn’t matter which political office was in power. Honorees cut across parties. They came from the arts, sciences, sports, business and politics.
President Obama really loved the Medal of Freedom.
Ford said: The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes individuals who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
But Trump has so divided the country and devalued arts and sciences, 2017 marks the first time there have been no Presidential medals of freedom.
Indeed, the entire remaining Presidential arts and humanities council left over from President Obama resigned last summer after Trump’s incendiary comments about the Charlottesville protests.
Additionally, the White House website– www.whitehouse.gov– has no section for the arts, humanities, or sciences. The original Presidential arts and humanities council was established by Ronald Reagan in 1982. But of course, if Trump announced such a council, no one would join it except Scott Baio and Ted Nugent. And to whom would they give awards? Trump has evinced no interest in any kind of arts during his entire life– with the exception of golf.