William & Mary Chancellor and retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor was honored April 30 with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s highest honor.
O’Connor was joined by broadcast journalist Jim Lehrer and historian and author Gordon Wood as the 2011 recipients of Colonial Williamsburg’s Churchill Bell. According to a release, the award “is given to those who exemplify what it means to be active and engaged citizens, building upon the principles of liberty, courage, dignity and devotion to the common good preserved and interpreted in Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and through the Foundation’s educational initiatives.”
O’Connor became William & Mary’s 23rd Chancellor in 2006 following her retirement as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. O’Connor was the first woman to serve on the nation’s highest court. She has been a national leader in the movement to encourage civic engagement in schools. In 2010, O’Connor received the Marshall-Wythe Medallion, the highest honor given by William & Mary Law School’s faculty. The medallion recognizes outstanding leaders from the bench, bar, and academia.
According to a Colonial Williamsburg release, the Churchill award “is inspired by the Williamsburg Award, presented to former British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill on Dec. 7, 1955 in London’s historic Drapers’ Hall by then-Colonial Williamsburg Chairman Winthrop Rockefeller, to honor Mr. Churchill’s leadership and commitment in the cause of liberty and freedom.”
Prior to Saturday’s award ceremony, the three honorees participated in a discussion entitled, “The Responsibilities of Citizenship.” The event, which was moderated by NBC Chief Foreign Affairs correspondent Andrea Mitchell, addressed the state of citizen engagement in the country today.