Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was honored by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History with its Great Americans medal. The Dec. 7 award ceremony at the museum included a conversation with Powell and the presentation of a newly minted medal that “recognizes lifetime contributions that embody American ideals and ideas.” Earlier, the retired four-star general had donated three personal objects to the Smithsonian collection, including the dark navy blue windbreaker he wore at the State Department.
The presentation medal, cast in 1.85 ounces of fine gold in Wisconsin, features an American eagle with rays of the sun on the obverse with the words “Great Americans” and “National Museum of American History” struck around the image. The reverse side honors one of the museum’s most important treasures, the Star-Spangled Banner, and includes the mission of the Smithsonian: “For the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” The design of the medal was inspired by $20 gold pieces designed by famed sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens from the museum’s National Numismatic Collection.
Powell is the second recipient of the Great Americans medal, which will be presented annually to up to four recipients. Another former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, received the inaugural award Sept. 7.
*View Jeff Malet’s photos from the award ceremony by clicking on the icons below.*