The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award® is the nation's most prestigious honor for public servants.
Throughout his political career, President Kennedy inspired people to work for the benefit of their communities, their country, and their world. He believed that each person can make a difference, and that everyone should try. In particular, he wanted to restore a belief in politics as a noble profession and a calling to public service.
The Profile in Courage Award seeks to make Americans aware of the courageous acts of their public servants, and to encourage elected officials to choose the public interest over partisanship – to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.
History of the Award
The Profile in Courage Award was created in 1989 by members of President Kennedy's family to honor President John F. Kennedy and to recognize and celebrate the quality of political courage that he admired most.
The award recognizes a public official (or officials) at the federal, state or local level whose actions demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage, President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by embracing unpopular positions for the greater good.
The award is presented each May at a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in connection with the observance of President Kennedy’s birthday on May 29.
The award is represented by a sterling silver lantern, modeled after the lantern on the USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned ship in the U.S. Navy. The lantern was designed by Edwin Schlossberg and crafted by Tiffany & Co.
The Profile in Courage Award is administered by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. A distinguished bipartisan committee named by the Foundation reviews all nominations, and selects the recipient or recipients of the award.