Rush Limbaugh, the conservative talk-radio icon, known to his millions of fans simply as “Rush,” was recognized by President Trump at last night’s State of the Union speech with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
“Almost every American family knows the pain when a loved one is diagnosed with a serious illness,” the President said as he looked up at the first lady’s box, where Rush and his wife Kathryn were seated next to Melania Trump. “Here tonight is a special man, someone beloved by millions of Americans who just received a Stage 4 advanced cancer diagnosis. This is not good news, but what is good news is that he is the greatest fighter and winner that you will ever meet.”
Trump continued, “Rush, in recognition of all that you have done for our nation, the millions of people a day that you speak to and you inspire and all of the incredible work that you have done for charity, I am proud to announce tonight that you will be receiving our country’s highest civilian honor: The Presidential Medal of Freedom.”
Rush, who this week announced his cancer diagnosis on his show, was visibly moved by the president’s words. Mrs. Trump placed the medal around Rush’s neck as everyone in the House chamber and those watching on television witnessed the moment.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is a tradition dating back to the Kennedy Administration. Recipients span a range of fields, including public service, medicine, journalism, entertainment and business. Previous recipients have included such luminaries as Steven Spielberg, Muhammad Ali, Angela Merkel, Nancy Reagan, Mother Teresa, Billy Graham, Rosa Parks, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Because Rush has dominated talk radio for the last three decades, people assume his success came easily. However, Limbaugh’ early career involved struggles, including unsuccessful stints as a radio disc jockey, a news commentator, and even a ticket salesman for Major League Baseball’s Kansas City Royals. He is a great example of persistence and personal conviction in the pursuit of one’s goals.
The Rush Limbaugh Show that has forever solidified his iconic status premiered in 1988 and is currently heard on more than 600 stations nationwide by approximately 27 million weekly listeners. In the process, Rush dealt with the loss of his hearing in 2001, which left him almost completely deaf. His cochlear implants were clearly visible last night.
Rush’s list of accomplishments is impressive, including: author of the Rush Revere Series, a #1 New York Times bestselling children’s collection; inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1993; inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 1998; and named in 2009 as Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, to name but a few.
Rush is also well-known for his philanthropic side. His annual Cure-A-Thon broadcast has raised more than $47 million for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of America. His support for America’s armed forces has resulted in millions of dollars going to the Marine-Corps Law Enforcement Foundation.
We can’t think of an individual more deserving of the Presidential Medal of Freedom than Rush Hudson Limbaugh III, or should we just say “Rush.”
Photo from The White House