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Dalai Lama To Receive Congressional Gold Medal
The Dalai Lama will be receiving the nation’s highest civilian award, the Congressional Gold Medal, within the next six months. The recent legislation introduced by Senators Thomas (R-Wyo.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in early 2006 passed September 14, 2006.
The Congressional Gold Medal is the nation’s highest civilian award and has it origins in the American Revolution. The first Gold Medal was given to General George Washington in 1776. Since that time more than 100 medals have been given to such recipients as John Paul Jones, Captain James Biddle, Charles A. Lindbergh, Robert Frost and Ronald and Nancy Reagan.
The Dalai Lama is known for his messages and teachings of peace and compassion, along with his persistent, yet non-violent pilgrimage for the democratization of Tibet. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his struggle in the liberation of Tibet. According to his web site biography, “He also became the first Nobel Laureate to be recognized for his concern for global environmental problems.” Recently he has traveled the United States and Canada nurturing and highlighting ideals of ethics, leadership, education, understanding and love. According to his web site he has traveled 62 countries, met with presidents, prime ministers and crowned rulers of major nations in his quest to promote peace, compassion, love and ethics among other ideals.
Senator Thomas first met the Dalai Lama September 12, 1995 when he hosted a meeting with members of the Foreign Relations Committee in the United States Senate, followed by an informal coffee afterward. There were several ensuing meetings between the Dalai Lama and Senator Thomas; April 23, 1997 when the Dalai Lama and the Senator met at the Foreign Relations hearing room and on June 20, 2000 when they met with other members of the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. This visit was followed by picture taking while in the Vice President’s office. They again met on May 23, 2001 for a discussion with other Senate members and on September 9, 2003; the last visit taking place while the Dalai Lama was at the Capitol Building during a regular visit to the capitol.
According to Cameron Hardy, press secretary for Senator Thomas, “These were mainly listening sessions where members could bring themselves up-to-speed on concerns the Dalai Lama had in regard to his efforts for peace.” Also, according to Mr. Hardy, “The Foreign Affairs Committee is responsible for the foreign policy activities of the U. S. Senate. The East Asian and Pacific Affairs Subcommittee is under the Foreign Affairs Committee and provides all of those same responsibilities with more regard for East Asia and the Pacific Rim”.
Senator Thomas said, “The Dalai Lama continues to advocate for peace and compassion in a chaotic world. It’s an honor and privilege to recognize a man whose life work aims to do what is most needed - bring people together.”
Thomas also “values the idea of bringing people together in order to arrive at the best solution. His own legislative efforts aim to bring people together on common themes, whenever possible, in order to achieve the best result.” The Senator has said that the Dalai Lama’s ability to bring people together is what most impressed him, as well as his commitment to advocate for peace. He believes His Holiness is a worthy recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal. The award recognizes his efforts to find a peaceful solution in Tibet through dialogue with the Chinese leadership.
As mentioned earlier in the article, the Dalai Lama has not yet received his award. Each Congressional Medal, after approval from Congress, is designed specifically for the recipient. The award will be presented to him personally. Senator Thomas plans on attending the ceremony barring any conflicts.
Senator Thomas is Wyoming’s senior voice in the United States Senate. In 1989 he replaced Dick Cheney in the House of Representatives when Cheney was appointed Secretary of Defense. Senator Thomas was elected to the United States Senate in 1994 and then again in 2000. He has lived in Casper, Wyoming more than 20 years.
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