President Donald Trump bestowed an “absolute titan of American law and a heroic defender of the American Constitution” with the Medal of Freedom.
Former President Ronald Reagan associate Edwin Messe II was presented with the highest civilian honor award on Tuesday.
Messe served in the U.S. Army, as chief of staff when Reagan was the California governor, and as the U.S. Attorney General during Reagan’s administration. Later in his career, he joined the Heritage Foundation.
“He was a star,” Trump said during the ceremony, adding, “Ed was among President Reagan’s closest advisers as the administration implemented tax cuts, a dramatic defense buildup, and a relentless campaign to defeat communism.”
“Ed helped spearhead an initiative to fight organized crime and public corruption, supported a task force on victims of crime, and chaired the first White House meeting on missile defense that led to the Strategic Defense Initiative – a strategy that helped win the Cold War.”
Former Attorney General Edwin Meese III has for decades been a champion of our Nation's founding principles and a key conservative voice on matters of law and policy.
Today, he receives the Medal of Freedom! pic.twitter.com/u3e7MP5p6V
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) October 8, 2019
“Ed, you are a loyal fighter for freedom, a champion of law and order, mentor to young Americans, and faithful defender of our Republic,” Trump said.
The president continued:
“You are an inspiration to liberty-loving citizens everywhere. You’re just an inspiration, period. Everybody that knows you uses that word: You’re an inspiration. On behalf of the grateful nation that I love and that we serve, I want to thank you. I want to thank you for your incredible lifetime of exceptional service and of devotion to our country.”
Edwin Meese III has long been a strong conservative voice, dedicating his life to serving our Nation and protecting our liberties as former Attorney General and counselor to President Ronald Reagan. Congratulations to a great American patriot on receiving the Medal of Freedom! pic.twitter.com/p96hfnKVCX
— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) October 8, 2019
Messe told those in attendance:
“I’m also very grateful to the Vice President for being here. Mr. Vice President, you and I have been friends since the day you were in Congress here, not so many years ago. And it was great to have known you and followed your career also. And I think you and the President make one of the finest teams we’ve had in our country. And I’m very grateful particularly to have this award coming from the two of you.”
Although Messe is now a supporter of the president, earlier on he was a critic of Trump.
Messe later added, “Ronald Reagan was a pivotal part of my life and I am always grateful to him.”
— Jennifer Franco (@jennfranconews) October 9, 2019
Watch the full event below:
“It is extraordinary to think of the life of consequence that you have lived, coming alongside one American President,” Vice President Mike Pence said, adding, “But also being there every step of the way as this President brought forward a vision to rebuild our military, revive our economy, reground the courts of this country to constitutional principles of limited government.”