On Veterans Day, former U.S. President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush were honored for their service to U.S. military veterans since they’ve left the White House.
As reported by the Associated Press, the couple was awarded the National Constitution Center’s 2018 Liberty Medal at the Philadelphia History Museum on Sunday, with former Vice President Joe Biden presenting them with the award.
The former president shared that he was proud to be “following in his father’s footsteps once again,” and honored to be recognized for the work he has been doing since the end of his presidential term in 2009. Bush’s father, George H. W. Bush, was awarded the medal alongside another former president, Bill Clinton, back in 2006.
Meanwhile, his wife spoke of the importance of supporting military spouses and caregivers as well as the veterans themselves. Laura asked for non-profit and government organizations working with veterans to also take into consideration the needs of their loved ones when offering support.
Biden previously awarded the 2017 medal to the winner, Republican Senator John McCain, who passed away in August this year after a lengthy battle with brain cancer. Biden also gifted an Eagles jersey to each Bush, ahead of the game between the Eagles and the Cowboys. The former president was later present at the game, where he performed the coin flip.
While the couple were inside receiving their awards, a group of protesters gathered outside the venue to block the way in. The group consisted of veterans who carried out their service in the post-9/11 era, according to CBS Philadelphia, and call themselves the Veterans Against The War. Famously, Bush sent masses of troops into Afghanistan and Iraq after the attack, sparking major wars in the region.
They issued a statement about their intent, saying they want to “end a foreign policy of permanent war and the use of military weapons, tactics and values in communities across the country.”
One protester was actually able to interrupt the ceremony inside the building when they got past security.
Just last month, Bush praised veterans for their incredible sacrifice in serving their country when it was announced he and Laura would be receiving this award.
“Our democracy depends upon the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility, and there’s no finer example of citizenship than our veterans. Laura and I are honored to dedicate this award from the National Constitution Center to the men and women who have defended and upheld the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.”