List of awards and honors received by Ted Kennedy

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During his lifetime, Senator Edward M. Kennedy received many awards and honors.

Honorary degrees[edit]

Honorary knighthood[edit]

Order BritEmp (civil) rib.PNG
KBE ribbon and badge

In a speech to Congress on March 4, 2009,[10] Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown announced that Kennedy had been granted an honorary knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II for his work in the Northern Ireland peace process, and for his contribution to UK–US relations.[11] To an American citizen, this dignity is purely honorary, and therefore Kennedy was not entitled to the title of "Sir Edward", although he was able to use the post-nominal KBE (Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire) outside the United States.[12][13]

Kennedy released a statement saying he was "deeply grateful" for the "extraordinary honor". "I have always prized the opportunity to work with the British government and strengthen and deepen the role of our two countries as leading beacons of democracy in the world", Kennedy said. "So for me this honor is moving and personal—a reflection not only of my public life, but of things that profoundly matter to me as an individual".

The granting of an honorary knighthood to Kennedy caused controversy in the UK, due to his connections with Gerry Adams of the Irish republican political party Sinn Féin.[14][15][16][17][18]


In 1997, Kennedy was honored as the Irish American of the Year by Irish America magazine.

In 1999 he received the Freedom medal.[19]

In 2003, Kennedy received the George Bush Award for Excellence in Public Service from former President George H. W. Bush.[20]

In 2006, Kennedy received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems.[21]

In 2007, Kennedy was awarded the Esperanza Leadership Award at the 2007 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. for his endeavors for comprehensive immigration reform.[22]

MEX Order of the Aztec Eagle 3Class BAR.png

Kennedy received the Order of the Aztec Eagle in July 2008 in recognition of his support for immigrants' rights. The order is the highest decoration that the Mexican government can bestow upon a foreigner.[23]

CHL Order of Merit of Chile - Grand Cross BAR.png

On September 23, 2008, Kennedy was presented with the Order of Merit of Chile (Grand Cross class) by the Chilean President Michelle Bachelet for Kennedy's dedication to human rights and his support of the Chilean people during the country's years under a military regime. The Order is Chile's highest civilian award.[24][25][26]

In 2009, Kennedy received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards[27] (not to be confused with the Heinz Award of the Heinz Family Foundation).

On March 8, 2009, Kennedy received the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award, as part of a 77th birthday celebration event at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.[28]

On March 10, 2009, it was announced that Kennedy would receive the National Association of State Boards of Education’s Lifetime Achievement Award, for his contributions to public education during his time as a senator.[29]

On April 25, 2009, Kennedy received the annual Cancer Compassion Award from the George Washington University Medical Center.[30]

On June 26, 2009, Kennedy received the Henry Clay Medallion for Distinguished Service from the Henry Clay Memorial Foundation, in recognition of his record of bipartisan collaboration in the Senate.[31]

Presidential Medal of Freedom (ribbon).png
Presidential Medal of Freedom ribbon and medal

Kennedy was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on July 30, 2009.[32] The statement from the Obama administration said that Kennedy "has been one of the greatest lawmakers – and leaders – of our time."[32]

Nansen medal(Small).jpg

On September 15, 2009, three weeks after Kennedy's death, it was announced by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees that Kennedy had been given its annual Nansen Refugee Award for "his achievements as an unparalleled champion of refugee protection and assistance for more than 45 years." The statement also reads: "UNHCR is grateful it was able to inform Senator Kennedy of the Nansen Committee's decision in June, and deeply saddened by his passing."[33]

Coat of arms[edit]

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy was presented with a grant of arms for all the descendants of Patrick Kennedy from the Chief Herald of Ireland. The arms of the Kennedy family are black with three gold helmets depicted upon it, within a border that is divided into red and ermine segments, and strongly alludes to the symbols in the coats of arms of the O'Kennedys of Ormonde and the Fitzgeralds of Desmond from whom the family is believed to be descended. The crest is an armored hand holding four arrows between two olive branches, elements taken from the coat of arms of the United States of America and also symbolic of Kennedy and his brothers. The coat of arms is described in heraldic terms as, Sable three helmets in profile Or within a bordure per saltire gules and ermine, and the crest is, Between two olive branches a cubit sinister arm in armor erect the hand holding a sheaf of four arrows points upward all proper on a torse Or and sable, while the mantling is gules doubled argent.[34]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-09-15. Retrieved 2008-05-27.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Degree for E.M. Kennedy". The New York Times. Associated Press. September 28, 1967.
  3. ^ "'69 honorary degree recipients were quite an accomplished group".
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ a b c Kiel, Lauren D. (December 2, 2008). "Harvard Awards Kennedy Honorary Degree". The Harvard Crimson.
  10. ^ Brown, Gordon (March 4, 2009). "In full: Brown's speech to Congress". BBC News. Retrieved 4 March 2009. Northern Ireland is today at peace and happiness, more Americans have health care, more children around the world are going to school, and for all those things we owe a great debt to the life and courage of Senator Edward Kennedy. And so today, having talked to him last night, I want to announce that Her Majesty The Queen has awarded an honorary Knighthood for Sir Edward Kennedy.
  11. ^ "Ted Kennedy to receive knighthood". BBC News. 4 March 2009. Retrieved 4 March 2009.
  12. ^ Rhee, Foon (March 4, 2009). "Kennedy to be knighted". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  13. ^ Webster, Philip; Sharrock, David (March 5, 2009). "Ted Kennedy to be knighted". London: The Times. Retrieved 2009-03-04.
  14. ^ "Controversy over Kennedy knighthood". 6 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  15. ^ "Tory backlash over Kennedy honour". BBC News. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  16. ^ Drury, Ian (4 March 2009). "MPs' fury as U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy gets honorary knighthood for Northern Ireland role". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  17. ^ "Editorial: The Big Sir". The Times. London. 5 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  18. ^ Pierce, Andrew (6 March 2009). "Kennedy should not be honoured". Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  19. ^ Four Freedoms Award#Freedom Medal
  20. ^ Moghe, Sonia (November 10, 2003). "Kennedy receives Bush award at Texas A&M". The Battalion.
  21. ^ "Senator Edward M. Kennedy to Receive Lifetime Achievement Award from National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems; Nation's Top Supporter of Public Health Care Will Read to Children at Cambridge Health Alliance's Pediatric Program" (Press release). AScribe Newswire. October 10, 2006. Archived from the original on October 26, 2012.
  22. ^ "2007 National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference Brief". Esperanza USA. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  23. ^ "Mexico to honor Sen. Kennedy on immigrant rights". USA Today. Associated Press. July 18, 2008.
  24. ^ "Sen. Kennedy back home after brief hospital trip" USA Today.
  25. ^ "As Chile hails his support, Kennedy projects aura of strength"
  26. ^ Dos comentarios de chilenos de verdad (Spanish)
  27. ^
  28. ^ Cordes, Nancy (2009-03-08). "An Enchanted Evening With Ted Kennedy". CBS News. Retrieved 2009-03-09.
  29. ^ "Senator Edward Kennedy to Receive NASBE 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award" (Press release). National Association of State Boards of Education. March 10, 2009.
  30. ^ "Inside the Beltway: This Just In". The Washington Times. 2009-04-16. Retrieved 2009-04-17.
  31. ^ "Global Consumption Top of Mind as 'Gen Y' Statesmen Convene". Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. PR Newswire. June 22, 2009.
  32. ^ a b "President Obama Names Medal of Freedom Recipients" Archived 2009-12-15 at the Wayback Machine, White House Office of the Press Secretary, July 30, 2009
  33. ^
  34. ^ "John Fitzgerald Kennedy, 35th President of the United States". American Heraldry Society. Archived from the original on 3 August 2016. Retrieved 27 October 2009.