Former Minnesota Supreme Court justice and Minnesota Vikings Hall of Famer Alan Page was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Friday afternoon.
Page was honored for his “athletic accomplishments and lifetime of public service and philanthropy.”
Before placing the medal around Page’s neck, President Donald Trump recited Page’s long “very impressive” list of accomplishments.
Page, 73, was the first African American to serve on the Minnesota Supreme Court, retiring after 22 years on the bench. Prior to his judicial days, Page played in the NFL for 15 years — the majority of the time spent with the Vikings. In addition, Page and his late wife, Diane, founded the Page Education Foundation which has provided nearly 7,000 scholarships to Minnesota students of color.
Justice Alan Page is an accomplished jurist, athlete, and philanthropist who played 15 years with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears before winning a seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1992. https://t.co/CTTQghXn8y pic.twitter.com/zQbhMDrZHU
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 16, 2018
In a particularly touching part of the ceremony, Trump acknowledged Page’s wife Diane, who died on September 29 of breast cancer, saying she “is looking down on you right now and she is so proud with love.’’
Despite having endorsed Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, Page kept politics out of the ceremony Friday, telling the Star Tribune the award wasn’t about his personal political beliefs, but about what he and his wife worked for their whole lives.
“What I’ve been trying to communicate, whether it’s this president or any other president, is what this represents — a recognition of what [my wife] Diane and I have tried to do with our lives and in a small way make the world a better place,” Page told the Star Tribune. “When I think about it that way, it’s a pretty easy thing to be happy about and proud of.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It is the highest civilian honor.
Page was one of seven individuals to receive the honor, including retiring U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys legend and Vietnam veteran Roger Staubach, and Israeli American philanthropist and physician Miriam Adelson. The president also honored posthumously Babe Ruth, Elvis Presley, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Watch part of the ceremony below: