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Nominations are now open for the 2012 Presidential Citizens Medal and some atheists (me included) think that Jessica Ahlquist should be nominated.I agree with Mr. Rosch. Following are the criteria for the medal from whitehouse.gov along with my thoughts on how she meets them:
The 2012 Citizens Medal will recognize “citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens.” Executive Order 11494 (Nov. 13, 1969). It is generally recognized as the second highest civilian award of our Government.
The 2012 Citizens Medal will recognize U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals:
Who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home. Someone who has engaged in activities that have had an impact in their local community, on a community or communities elsewhere in the United States or on fellow citizens living or stationed around the world. [Her actions serve every public school student in the country. The immediate impact was in Cranston, RI, but the problem of religious indoctrination in schools is well-documented and persistent.]
Who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts. Individuals who have demonstrated notable skill and grace, selflessly placed themselves in harm’s way, taken unusual risks or steps to protect others, made extraordinary efforts to further a national goal, or otherwise conducted themselves admirably when faced with unusually challenging circumstances. [She risked the hostility of her school community, and the community at large. She's been threatened by religious extremists -- the kind most likely to act on their violent fantasies. And she's handled this all the aplomb that could be asked of 16-year-old, and more.]
Whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem. Individuals who have made efforts to combat stubbornly persistent problems that impact entire communities, for example those who have taken innovative steps to address hunger, homelessness, the dropout crisis, lack of access to health care, and other issues that plague too many Americans. [If the threat to secular democracy by the religious is a persistent problem that impacts entire communities, than nothing is.]
Whose service has had a sustained impact on others’ lives and provided inspiration for others to serve. The ideal nominee for a Citizens Medal is a person whose work has had a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of others. [She has been an inspiration, her invitation to Reason Rally is evidence of that, as well as the support she has received from secularists. The reduction of the stultifying, ostracizing, and bullying influence of religion of public schools is a lasting impact.]Submit a nomination.
If you've blogged, tweeted, or shared Ms. Ahlquist's sotry with your family and friends, please consider taking a moment to join me in using the link above to ask that President Obama recognize her with this well-deserved honor.