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  Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipient Morris K. Udall
ParentParent Candidate
ContributorThomas Walker 
Post Date ,  12:am
Awarded by
President Bill Clinton
A World War II veteran and former professional basketball player, Udall represented Arizona during a distinguished thirty-year career in the House of Representatives. Afflicted with Parkinson's disease, he resigned his seat in 1991. Widely respected for his humor and quiet dignity, he served as the Chairman of the Interior Committee for fourteen years, leading the way on landmark environmental legislation, including the Alaska Lands Act, the 1984 Wilderness Act, and the 1982 Nuclear Waste Management Act.


Morris King Udall served with pride and distinction as Arizona's Congressman from District 2 from 1961-1991. Upon his retirement from public life, David Broder of the Washington Post wrote in his column:

The legacy he left is imposing and enduring, it ranges from strip mining and Alaska wilderness legislation to the reform of archaic committee and floor procedures that congressional barons had used to conceal their arbitrary power. For a whole generation of congressmen, Udall became mentor and a model, he was special and precious to many of us.

As well as serving in the House of Representatives for three decades, Udall ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976. He became one of the most creative and productive legislators of the century. His concern for Native Americans and love of the environment resulted in numerous pieces of legislation moving through congress. He also authored important legislation on campaign reform, congressional ethics and was the first major Democrat to oppose President Johnson on the Vietnam War.

Udall's sense of humor, civility and a strong bipartisan spirit led him to distinguish between political opponents and enemies. One of Udall's closest longtime friends was the rock of Republican conservatism, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater. To honor his family's contributions to public service, The Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, The Morris K. Udall Foundation, and the United States Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, all continue the Udall's legacy to improve the American experiment.
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