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Bush awards Purdue graduate nation’s highest civilian honor

Purdue graduate and C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, a native of Lafayette, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush for his “dedication to a transparent political system and to the free flow of ideas.”

Lamb, 66, graduated from Purdue in 1963 with a bachelor’s degree in communication and spent years working for Lafayette radio and television stations before debuting C-SPAN on March 19, 1979. The network records daily congressional proceedings and other public affairs activities for public viewing on cable or the internet.

“It is a tool that enlivens democracy, and informs and educated citizens of all ages, at all hours,” Bush said at a White House ceremony to honor Lamb and other Presidential Medal recipients.

Today, more than 52 million people watch C-SPAN, yet Lamb has always made it clear that the success of the political network comes from a team effort. During a speech in 2004, at the network’s 25th anniversary Lamb said, “The great story of C-SPAN is that it’s not me. The strength of it comes from American citizens who believe that openness and communication is absolutely necessary of society.”

Lamb is one of eight winners of the medal, among them; author Harper Lee and civil rights leader Benjamin Hooks. The medal was established in 1963 to 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, world peace, cultural, or other significant public or private endeavors.”

For his enormous achievement and his personal modesty; for his high standards and his contribution to our democracy, America is grateful to Mr. Brian Lamb,” Bush said.

Lamb has already received the National Humanities Medal in 2003, was inducted into the Indiana Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2005, and named one of the country’s “25 best leaders” by U.S. News & World Report.

Article appeared in the Purdue Alumnus magazine.

Read more about Brian Lamb’s Medal of Freedom from USA Today!

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