Distinguished Citizen Awards

Since 1952, Freedoms Foundation has honored more than 260 outstanding individuals and organizations with the Distinguished Citizen Award for actions that demonstrate responsible citizenship and a lifetime of service their community.

The Distinguished Citizen Award is reserved for those whose dedication to civic duty fulfills the highest ideals of our nation’s Founders. Recent recipients have included Joan Carter and John Aglialoro, Drs. Jack and Pina Templeton, and Alan B. Miller. Among the notable past honorees were British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, civil rights activist Marian Wright Edelman, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and teacher Jamie Escalante.

All recipients have…

  • Contributed to responsible citizenship as outlined in the Bill of Responsibilities.
  • Demonstrated outstanding achievement over a period of years.
  • Made a significant contribution to their community, state or nation.
  • Served as an inspiration to others.

The Board of Directors at Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge is honored to recognize Dr. Larry Arnn, Dr. Rogers Smith, and The Philly Pops as the 2020 recipients of our Distinguished Citizen Award.


Dr. Larry P. Arnn is the president of Hillsdale College, where he is also a professor of politics and history. Under his leadership, Hillsdale has, among other initiatives, developed free online courses on the Constitution that are available to all Americans eager to learn more about their heritage.

Dr. Arnn is on the board of directors of the Heritage Foundation, the Henry Salvatori Center of Claremont McKenna College, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Claremont Institute.

Dr. Arnn has authored three publications: Liberty and Learning: The Evolution of American Education; The Founders Key: The Divine and Natural Connection between the Declaration and The Constitution and What We Risk by Losing It; and Churchill’s Trial: Winston Churchill and the Salvation of Free Government.

Dr. Rogers Smith is the Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and is the immediate past president of the American Political Science Association. A dedicated scholar of the US Constitution, Dr. Smith has spent his career engaged with difficult questions around citizenship, race, immigration, and religion. Not only is his scholarship thoughtful and thought provoking, but he recognizes the need for civic education for all Americans, especially in the face of current political polarization.

To that end, Professor Smith was founding Director of the Penn Program on Democracy, Citizenship, and Constitutionalism (now the Andrea Mitchell Center for the Study of Democracy) where he developed faculty, graduate, and undergraduate workshop series, a publication series, and postdoctoral fellowships all producing and disseminating current scholarship covering topics on the understanding of democracy and the ongoing quest for democratic values, ideas, and institutions throughout the world.

The Philly POPS, led by President and CEO Frank Giordano, is the largest standalone pops orchestra in the United States. Founded in 1979, The Philly POPS delights audiences with inspired performances of American popular music and celebrates this distinctive musical heritage through a wide array of initiatives.

The Philly POPS’s free Salute Series celebrates the American tradition of service around important holidays.  Along with their well-known POPS on the Parkway for July 4th, the Pops also perform an I’ll Be Home for Christmas concert to kick off the holiday season with free admission for active military, police, and fire department families.

Bringing music to the Philadelphia Public Schools is also very important to the POPS.  Launched in 2015, POPS in Schools, brings teaching artists into schools across Philadelphia to train, coach, and mentor music students.  This program reaches approximately 2,000 students a year.