- THE WHITE HOUSE - Dec 7, 2020 -
12:38 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. And today it’s my privilege to present our nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to one of the greatest wrestlers in American history: Iowa legend, Dan Gable. He has been an incredible inspiration to so many people.
We’re joined today by Dan’s wonderful wife, Kathy, and their incredible and large family, including 13 grandchildren. Thank you very much. Thank you, Kathy, very much. It’s a great honor for us too. Thank you for being here.
We’re also joined by Iowa senators Chuck Grassley — where’s Chuck? Chuck?
Congratulations on everything, Chuck. And Joni Ernst, who just had a big victory. Thank you, Joni. What a job. What a job. They had you down a couple of points, and you won by a lot. So, you know —
SENATOR ERNST: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: — it’s one of those things that you really — you should be very proud of yourself. You campaigned hard, and it was a tremendous victory. Thank you very much.
And also, Representatives Jim Jordan — where’s Jim? A great wrestler, a really great wrestler. I won’t go over the record because the only way you’re not great is compared to this guy, perhaps. (Laughter.) But he’s a warrior in every way, and we appreciate you being here.
And, Markwayne Mullin, thank you very much for being here. And I’m glad your son is doing well and setting records also. So these two guys are great. They’re really, really fantastic people.
Dan was born and raised in the working-class town of Waterloo, Iowa. His mother said she knew Dan would be a wrestler the day they brought him home from the hospital. Even as an infant, Dan refused to let his back even touch the ground. That’s sort of an interesting statement. (Laughter.) Probably so.
At four years old, his parents sent him to the local YMCA where he learned to swim, wrestle, and play football. When he reached high school, Dan decided to commit himself entirely to wrestling. His coach quickly saw his unmatched intensity and gave Dan the keys to the gym so he could come first thing in the morning to practice. At first, Dan was alone, but as he achieved one victory after another, the rest of the team followed his lead. He worked hard, but he was also born with something very special. It’s called talent. And talent, you either have it or you don’t.
During his time in high school, Dan’s beloved sister, Diane — toughest time in his life — was murdered. Afterwards, Dan poured even more of his energy into wrestling, and his exceptional success brought happiness and pride to his family, especially in overcoming this incredible heartbreak that they had with what happened to Diane.