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Home > About > News and Events > News > Member News > Harmony Project Founder Receives Presidential Citizens Medal

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Harmony Project Founder Receives Presidential Citizens Medal

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Oct 20, 2011
Los Angeles, CA

On October 20, Dr. Margaret Martin, founder of the Harmony Project, was among thirteen recipients to be awarded the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal. The Presidential Citizens Medal is the nation's second-highest civilian honor.  President Obama welcomed the recipients to the White House stating, "This year's recipients of the Citizens Metal come from different backgrounds, but they share a commitment to a cause greater than themselves...They exemplify the best of what it means to be an American, and I am honored to be able to offer them a small token of our appreciation."

The Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize American citizens who have performed deeds of service for their country and their fellow citizens. In May, the President called on members of the public to nominate people in their lives who have performed exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs, including individuals who have a demonstrated commitment to service in their own community or in communities farther from home, who have helped their country or their fellow citizens through one or more extraordinary acts, whose service relates to a long-term or persistent problem, and whose service has had a sustained impact on others' lives and provided inspiration for others to serve. Dr. Martin was selected from a pool of nearly 6,000 public nominations.

In a statement released by the Office of the Secretary on October 12, the White House had the following to say about Dr. Martin's work:

After observing LA gang members stop at a Hollywood market to listen to a kid playing Brahms on a small violin, Margaret Martin realized those gang members would rather be doing what the kid was doing, but would never have the chance. She decided to dedicate her life to making quality arts education available to those in the most underserved, gang reduction zones of Los Angeles, and founded the Harmony Project in 2001. The organization has provided instruments and tuition free group and private music lessons to thousands of children in Los Angeles who would otherwise have no access to classical music. Martin receives the Citizens Medal for replacing violence in children's lives with music.

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