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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Former President George W. Bush and former First Lady Laura Bush were honored at the National Constitution Center with the Liberty Medal award Sunday.
“I am incredibly proud along with Laura to receive the Liberty medal and I thank the national constitution center and its board for this high honor,” Bush said.
In its 30th year, the award is given to recipients for their commitment to veterans.
“It is not about again Democrats or Republicans,” presenter Joe Biden said. “It’s about who we are. It’s about standing up for men and women who put their lives on the line to defend us every single day.”
Biden even offered the Bushes a surprise gift, Philly style.
“My wife Jill couldn’t be here tonight but wanted me to simultaneously present you both with a Philadelphia Eagles jersey tonight,” he said to loud cheers.
Lighthearted cheers were met with tense ones after a protester interrupted the ceremony to speak out against the Bushes receiving the award.
A group of veterans blocked the entrance to the National Constitution Center Sunday.
Organizers from Veterans Against The War, a group of post-9/11 service members and veterans protested near the Arch Street entrance between 5th and 6th Street.
The group aims to end “a foreign policy of permanent war and the use of military weapons, tactics and values in communities across the country,” the group said in a statement.
Following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the United States, under President Bush, entered wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Our democracy depends upon the embrace of high ideals and civic responsibility, and there’s no finer example of citizenship than our veterans,” former President Bush said in a statement last month. “Laura and I are honored to dedicate this award from the National Constitution Center to the men and women who have defended and upheld the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution.”
This is the 30th annual Liberty Medal ceremony. Former recipients include Hillary Clinton, Muhammad Ali and John McCain.