January 30, 1987
The President today awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal to Larry M. Speakes, Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary.
The Presidential Citizens Medal was established by Executive Order 11494 of November 13, 1969, for the purpose of recognizing citizens of the United States of America who have performed exemplary deeds of service for their country or their fellow citizens. The medal may be bestowed by the President upon any citizen of the United States at the sole discretion of the President. The announcement of the granting of the medal and the presentation ceremonies may take place at any time during the year.
The citation reads as follows:
In journalism, politics, and Government, Larry Speakes has faithfully served the cause of truth and, in doing so, has served the cause of America. Veteran of the White House press office for 9 years under three administrations, conducting some 2,000 daily press briefings during this Administration, Larry Speakes has become a familiar sight to all of us. America has come to know him as a man cool under pressure, conscientiously working to get the facts out -- a man whom the American people could always count on to tell them the truth. America is more knowledgeable because of Larry Speakes.
Prior to joining the White House staff as Deputy Press Secretary to the President on January 20, 1981, Mr. Speakes was vice president of the international public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton in 1977 - 1981. He served as deputy spokesman in the office of the President-elect during transition and was on the communications staff of the Reagan-Bush Committee during the 1980 campaign. The President appointed him to his current position of Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary on August 5, 1983. Mr. Speakes started his newspaper career in 1961 as editor of the Oxford (Mississippi) Eagle and was managing editor of the Bolivar Commercial in Cleveland, MS, in 1962 - 1966. He was general manager and editor of Progress Publishers of Leland, MS, publishing weekly newspapers in four cities, 1966 - 1968. His newspapers won top awards from the Mississippi Press Association for 6 straight years.
Mr. Speakes came to Washington in 1968 as press secretary to Senator James O. Eastland (D-MS), serving as spokesman for the Committee on the Judiciary and a coordinator for Senator Eastland's 1972 reelection campaign. During his service with Senator Eastland, Mr. Speakes directed press relations for major Judiciary Committee hearings, including the confirmation of four Supreme Court Justices. In 1974 Mr. Speakes joined the Nixon administration as a Staff Assistant to the President and was later appointed Press Secretary to the Special Counsel to the President. In August 1974 he became Assistant Press Secretary to the President in the Ford administration. During the 1976 Presidential campaign, he was Press Secretary to Senator Bob Dole (R-KS), the Republican candidate for Vice President. When President Ford left office in 1977, Mr. Speakes became his press secretary, serving until June 1, 1977.
Mr. Speakes attended the University of Mississippi, where he majored in journalism. He has received honors and awards, including the Distinguished Journalism Alumni Award from the University of Mississippi in 1981; Kappa Sigma Fraternity National Man of the Year Award in 1982; honorary doctor of letters degree from Indiana Central University in 1982; and the Special Achievement Award for 1983 from the National Association of Government Communicators. He is married to the former Laura Crawford, has three children, and resides in Annandale, VA.