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The Whole Story

National Geographic
(January 1928), 132-40.



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Page 1
Lindbergh Gets the Hubbard Medal

Famous Transoceanic Flyers Present

President Coolidge Introduces Colonel Lindbergh

Page 2
Dr. Grosvenor Presents the President

The President Lauds the Air-hero

Colonel Lindbergh's Reply

Page 3

Secretary MacCracken's Speech

Sinner and Saint Prayed for His Success

Aviation's Gift to Geography


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President Coolidge Bestows Lindbergh Award

Charles Lindbergh photo

Photograph courtesy International Newsreel

The National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal Is Presented to Aviator Before the Most Notable Gathering in the History of Washington

From the hands of President Coolidge, Col. Charles A. Lindbergh, first to fly the Atlantic alone, received America's highest award to explorers, the Hubbard Gold Medal of the National Geographic Society, in Washington's largest auditorium, before the most distinguished audience ever gathered for such an occasion in the National Capital, on the evening of November 14, 1927.

The eminent jurists of the United States Supreme Court, virtually all the members of the President's Cabinet, and all the Unites States Senators and Representatives then in Washington; members of the Diplomatic Corps from all over the world in their full-dress regalia; ranking officers of the Army and Navy; the Director of the Budget; members of the Interstate Commerce Commission, and many other Government officials and noted scientists and private citizens formed the brilliant gathering which did honor to the 25-year-old hero, youngest man to receive the Hubbard Medal or any comparable honor.


Famous Transoceanic Flyers Present
With the modest young flyer on the platform, besides the President of the United States, were Mrs. Coolidge, Mrs. Lindbergh, Dr. Gilbert Grosvenor, President of the National Geographic Society, and Dr. John Oliver La Gorce, Vice President of the National Geographic Society. With them were the Hon. William P. MacCracken, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, and the Hon. Everett Sanders, Secretary to the President.

Flanking this group were famous transoceanic flyers who had contributed epochal achievements to the aerial conquests of the oceans. And with the aviators sat Dr. Orville Wright, whom many of those present remembered meeting when that pioneer of the air was in Washington with his brother conducting experiments which culminated in launching an airplane from a creaky rail at Fort Myer, Virginia, and thus inaugurating the science which thrilled the world when Colonel Lindbergh flew from New York to Paris.

Every seat in the Washington Auditorium was taken, police guards had to be thrown around the building to keep those from entering who did not have tickets, and six thousand members of The Society saw the historic ceremonies which were broadcast to millions of other Americans. For weeks the offices of the National Geographic Society were besieged for admission to the exercises, and a clerical force had been kept busy explaining to personal applicants, and answering thousands of letters from others, that the ticket supply had been exhausted when the six thousandth fortunate member of The Society had claimed the last available seat coupon.

The U.S. Army Band began playing at 8 o'clock and at 8:35 Colonel Lindbergh entered, accompanied by his mother and Dr. La Gorce.  Ten minutes later, the President of the United States and Mrs. Coolidge came on the stage with Dr. Grosvenor.  Dr. Grosvenor, in presenting the President, congratulated him, as Commander-in-Chief of all our air forces, on the amazing contributions of the Government's airmen.

President Coolidge Introduces Colonel Lindbergh
President Coolidge complimented Colonel Lindbergh's achievement in an address which was continually interrupted by applause, especially when he said that Colonel Lindbergh, after his flight, "determined to capitalize his fame, not for selfish aggrandizement, but for the promotion of the art he loves," and again when he referred to him as "this courageous, clear-headed, sure-handed youth, whose character had withstood the glare of publicity and the acid test of hero-worshipping adulation."

The President concluded by handing to Colonel Lindbergh the medal which has been bestowed on only seven other men in the 40 years of the National Geographic Society's existence and saying, "Tonight I have the utmost gratification in awarding you this further recognition of achievement, the Hubbard Medal of the National Geographic Society."

Then occurred an incident which is virtually without precedent, when the President, in addition to presenting the Hubbard Medal on behalf of the National Geographic Society, paid the young explorer the gracious personal tribute of introducing him to the audience.

The applause which greeted the two figures on the platform, America's foremost hero and America's foremost citizen, persisted for several minutes before Colonel Lindbergh was able to make his acknowledgement. Meanwhile a battery of motion-picture cameras and news photographers added a picturesque touch by snapping photographs at high speed with a clicking that sounded like a miniature Battle of the Marne. The stage was illuminated by great flares, so that the historic scene might be recorded.

When Colonel Lindbergh was able to make himself heard he accepted the honor in a brief, graceful speech, and mingled laughter and applause greeted him when, after uttering only a few sentences, he said: "In closing…."

Following Colonel Lindbergh's address, Assistant Secretary MacCracken summarized America's achievements in the air.
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