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Our view: Agent Hill deserving of award

Herald editorial board

The Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider Award isn't casually bestowed. Until this week, only 43 had received the honor, which since 1961 has been presented to North Dakotans who have influenced the state by achieving national recognition in their fields of endeavor. According to the Rough Rider Award page on the governor's website, all winners reflect "credit and honor upon North Dakota and its citizens."

Monday, the 44th recipient of the Rough Rider Award was named, and it couldn't go to a better candidate. Clint Hill, a former Secret Service agent famous for his reaction in the seconds after President John Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, received the award during a ceremony in his hometown of Washburn, N.D.

Hill's reaction after the president was shot was recalled in a story published in Tuesday's newspapers, but it hardly requires recitation. Hill was the agent who leapt upon the presidential limousine after rifle shots echoed through downtown Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. He shielded Kennedy and first lady Jacqueline Kennedy, although the president's injuries were fatal.

Hill's resume doesn't start and end with that sad day. He was born in Larimore, N.D., moved to Washburn and served in the Army. He served as a Secret Service agent through five presidential administrations, from Eisenhower through Ford. He has circulated among countless dignitaries and heads of state. He is an author. Sadly, he has struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of Kennedy's assassination.

Joe Scargill, in charge of the Secret Service's Minneapolis office, called Hill a "legend."

That's fitting, and it's why Hill deserves the Rough Rider Award. Hill certainly has met the requirements, i.e. national recognition in his field while reflecting credit and honor upon his home state.

"Agent Hill has traveled the world representing the United States and at every opportunity has stood proudly for our great state," Gov. Doug Burgum said. "His exceptional record of honorable service has earned him our everlasting respect and gratitude as fellow North Dakotans."

Hill's portrait now will be placed among the portraits of the other winners, including entertainer Lawrence Welk; actress Dorothy Stickney; artist Ivan Dmitri; baseball player Roger Maris; journalist Eric Sevareid; Gen. Harold K. Johnson; educator Dr. Anne H. Carlsen; journalist Edward K. Thompson; archivist Dr. Robert Henry Bahmer; author Louis L'Amour; entrepreneur Bertin C. Gamble; athlete Casper Oimoen; entertainer Peggy Lee; entrepreneur Harold Schafer; journalist Era Bell Thompson; physician Dr. Leon Orris Jacobson; humanitarian Elizabeth Bodine; actress Phyllis Frelich; athlete Cliff "Fido" Purpur; Gen. David C. Jones; Judge Ronald N. Davies; athlete Phil Jackson; author Larry Woiwode; actress Angie Dickinson; the Rev. Richard C. Halverson; legislator Brynhild Haugland; Admiral William A. Owens; aviator Carl Ben Eielson; Warren Christopher (for public service); entertainer Bobby Vee; entrepreneur Chester "Chet" Reiten; entrepreneur Thomas J. Clifford; educator Sister Thomas Welder; business leader Harry J. Pearce; business leader and Herald owner William C. Marcil; Master Sgt. Woodrow Wilson Keeble; entrepreneur, philanthropist and now Gov. Doug Burgum; business leader and philanthropist Ronald D. Offutt; author Louise Erdrich; business leader Herman Stern; elected official Gerald VandeWalle; aviation leader John D. Odegard; business leader Eugene Dahl.