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Truman-Reagan Medal of Freedom

H.E. Valdas Adamkus

His Excellency Valdas Adamkus fought as a Lithuanian partisan, worked as an engineer, and served twice as President of Lithuania. During World War II, Adamkus fought alongside the partisans against Soviet rule, published an underground newspaper during the Nazi occupation, and then resumed the fight agains the returning Soviet army. In 1949, he immigrated with his family to the United States and later began a career with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) upon its inception in 1970. In addition to his many achievements in the U.S., as a consultant he helped address environmental problems in Eastern Europe. When he retired from the EPA in 1997, he had the longest tenure of any senior executive. Adamkus then announced that he would return to Lithuania, become a citizen, and run for president. He supported membership both in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and in the European Union. He also worked to achieve friendly relations with Lithuania’s neighbors and ease tensions with Russia. In his first term, he successfully increased economic growth and lowered unemployment. In 2004, Adamkus served as President for a second term, during which he strove to further public participation in Lithuanian governance and promote closer relations between the European Union and the countries of the former Soviet sphere.