From The White House Historical Association–  On September 11, 1963, President John F. Kennedy awarded comedian Bob Hope a Gold Medal authorized by Congress in recognition of Hope’s services to his country and to the cause of world peace.

The medal honored Hope’s work traveling around the globe with the United Service Organizations (USO) entertaining American forces during World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Korean War.

In a ceremony at the White House attended by numerous members of Congress, President Kennedy delivered a speech honoring Hope:

“So, in passing this bill, in making this medal—and it really is one of the really rarest acts of Congress; I think, since the end of the second war, this has been done on only 10 or 11 occasions—Dr. Salk, Billy Mitchell, Justice Brandeis. It has been one of the greatest honors given to Americans, and it is a great pleasure for me on behalf of the Congress to present this to you.”

In response, Hope quipped: “There is only one sobering thought: I received this for going outside the country. I think they are trying to tell me something.”

Here, President Kennedy laughs as Hope delivers his remarks.

Left to right: Senator Thomas H. Kuchel; Representative Michael A. Feighan; President Kennedy; Senator Stuart Symington; Bob Hope; Dolores Hope; and an unidentified man.

Image Credit: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum / NARA