Though humbly diverting the honor, the impact our prophet has had through his vision and leadership, not only for Church members but for humanity throughout the world, has been inspirational. During the priesthood session of the last general conference (April 2004) President Hinckley summarized some of the successes of the Church’s humanitarian and welfare programs.
During this address President Hinckley reported that “we now operate 113 storehouses, 63 farms, 105 canneries and home storage centers, 18 food processing and distribution plants, as well as many other facilities” (Ensign, May 2004, 58). He explained that as a result of this food supply, not only are the needs of Church members being met, but also many others not of our faith because some non-LDS agencies utilize LDS welfare supplies.
In correlation with the Church’s extensive humanitarian efforts, President Hinckley also proposed and helped establish his vision for the Perpetual Education Fund, which was announced to the Church in 2001. This program, which affords Church members the opportunity to receive education and training through Church-sponsored loans, is now available in eleven international areas and has helped over 13,000 loan applicants.
It is because of his compassionate leadership and his determination to inspire, uplift, and aid others, especially those in less fortunate circumstances, that President Hinckley has been acknowledged publicly. Though President Hinckley would undoubtedly be the first to point out that accolades are not his motivation for service, it is certainly a well-deserved honor.
“[President Hinckley has] always shown the heart of a servant, and the gifts of a leader,” said President Bush during the awards ceremony. “Through his discipline and faithfulness, he has proven a worthy successor to the many fine leaders before him. His church has given him its highest position of trust, and today this wise and patriotic man receives his country’s highest civil honor.”