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Ella Sonja West/MEDILL

Gov. Pat Quinn (front left)  stands next to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in a ceremony Saturday awarding her the Order of Lincoln.

Hillary Clinton receives highest honor in Illinois

by Ella Sonja West
May 04, 2014

Former U. S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton received the highest honor the State of Illinois confers, the Order of Lincoln, Saturday at the Field Museum.

In conferring the award, Gov. Pat Quinn said in a statement before the ceremony, “Through her decades of service, Hillary Clinton has helped shape and improve the world more than almost any person in our nation’s history. She personifies the best that Illinois and the United States of America can offer.”

Born in Chicago, and raised in northwest suburban Park Ridge, Clinton was chosen to receive the honor because of her lifetime of “championing human rights, democracy, civil society and opportunities for women and girls around the world,” according to a representative for the Lincoln Academy of Illinois.

The former first lady and possible 2016 Democratic presidential candidate gave a brief acceptance speech in front of more than 200 attendees. She avoided any mention of politics in favor of praising her home state.

“I am so grateful for the experiences I had growing up here,” Clinton said. “The quality of education, the opportunity I was given, and the support I saw at every turn.” 

Clinton recalled school trips to the Field Museum and state capitol, going to Foster Avenue Beach and playing 16 inch softball, “which doesn’t exist anywhere else in the universe,” she joked.

“I am very appreciative for what this city and state gave first to my parents,” Clinton said. “And to have the chance to come and be with so many people who’ve made this state such an exceptional place, in memory of the greatest president who ever served our country.”

As governor, Quinn is the president of The Lincoln Academy of Illinois. This marks the 50th anniversary of the award.

The other 2014 recipients of the Order of Lincoln are, John A. Canning, Jr, the co-founder of Madison Dearborn Partners,LLC; Michael Krzyzewski, the head coach of men’s basketball team at Duke University; Newton N. Minow, Senior Counsel at the Chicago law firm Sidley & Austin, LLP; celebrated husband and wife composers, Bernard Rands and Augusta Read Thomas; the Rev. Donald Senior, President Emeritus of Catholic Theological Union in Chicago; and Glenn F. Tilton, chairman of the Midwest for JPMorgan Chase.