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Ben Carson Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
By Wendy Mullins/Johns Hopkins Children’s Center/Visitor Staff
Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., MD, received the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in a recent ceremony at the White House. Carson is a member of Chesapeake Conference’s Spencerville church in Silver Spring, Md.
"I am humbled by President Bush's recognition of my work,” said Carson, a world-renowned neurosurgeon at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. He was in surgery when he heard the official news. "I am extremely grateful that he chose to honor me not only for my work as a neurosurgeon, but also for my efforts to improve the lives of America's youth. I am blessed to have the opportunity to pursue both paths, which I consider equally important."
Established by Executive Order in 1963, the medal may be awarded by the president “to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
President Bush said he was proud to present the medal to Carson “for his skills as a surgeon, high moral standards, and dedication to helping others.”
Caron is renowned for his innovative and groundbreaking neurosurgeries, which include separations of craniopagus (Siamese) twins joined at the head, and hemispherectomies, surgeries in which a portion of the brain is removed to stem intractable seizures in children. At Johns Hopkins, where he has directed pediatric neurosurgery for nearly a quarter of a century, Carson co-directs its Craniofacial Center and is a professor of oncology, plastic surgery, and pediatrics.
Carson is also a philanthropist, author, and motivator of youth to rise above circumstances of upbringing or hardship to lead meaningful, accomplished, and compassionate lives. Motivated by a mother who challenged her sons to strive for excellence and insisted they read books instead of watching TV, he moved on from a childhood life of poverty in Detroit’s (Mich.) inner city to graduate from Yale University (Conn.), 1973, and University of Michigan School of Medicine, 1977.
Carson is president and co-founder of the Carson Scholars Fund, which recognizes young people of all backgrounds for exceptional academic and humanitarian accomplishments. He also co-founded Angels of the OR, which provides grants to assist families with non-covered medical care expenses involving both adult and pediatric neurosurgery.
His three books, “Gifted Hands,” “THINK BIG,” and “The Big Picture” offer inspiration and insight for leading a successful life. A fourth, “Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose, and Live with Acceptable Risk,” was released in earlier this year.
Dr. Carson has been married for more than 30 years to his wife, Candy, and is the father of three sons. His mother, Sonya Carson, lives with them.
In 2004, President Bush appointed him to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics. That same year, the Library of Congress selected him as one of its 89 “Living Legends.” In 2006, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded him its highest honor, the Spingarn Medal.
“Benjamin S. Carson, Sr., M.D., has worked throughout his career to improve the lives of those suffering from neurological disorders,” says the White House, in its press release announcing this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. “His groundbreaking contributions to medicine and his inspiring efforts to help America’s youth fulfill their potential have strengthened our nation.”
Other Presidential Medal of Freedom awardees include: Anthony S. Fauci, MD; Tom Lantos, former congressman; General Peter Pace, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.); Donna Edna Shalala, University of Miami president; and Laurence H. Silberman, a federal judge.