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 follow their conscience and 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 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 is named for President Kennedy’s 1957 Pulitzer prize-winning book, Profiles in Courage, which recounts the stories of eight U.S. Senators who risked their careers by taking principled stands for unpopular positions.
The Profile in Courage Award seeks to make Americans aware of the conscientious and courageous acts of their public servants, and to encourage elected officials to choose principles over partisanship – to do what is right, rather than what is expedient.
The award is presented annually to a public official or officials at the federal, state or local level whose actions best demonstrate the qualities of politically courageous leadership in the spirit of Profiles in Courage.
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.
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 May 29 birthday. 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.