When Thurmond received the Distinguished Service Medal in 1984, he had already served 29 years in the U.S. Senate. He would go on to serve another 19 years before retiring.
National Commander Keith A. Kreul said the Southern-Democrat-turned-Republican "actively opposed those who would break down our defenses and weaken our liberties."
Accepting the honor, Thurmond said, "While no federal program can be considered exempt in our quest to reduce budget deficits, we cannot ignore the fact that the (United States) no longer holds a military advantage over the Soviet Union in many areas. For that reason, funding for defense programs crucial to national security should not be eliminated or reduced."
A member of Aiken, S.C., Post 26, Thurmond joined the Army upon the United States' entry into World War II. He fought at D-Day, and received a Purple Heart, two Legions of Merit and other honors.
Upon returning home, Thurmond served as governor of South Carolina from 1947 to 1951. He ran as a third-party presidential candidate in 1948 and lost.
Thurmond represented South Carolina in the Senate for nearly half his life, retiring in 2003 at 100, less than six months before his death. In his 48-year career, he spent just seven months out of office, in 1956.
He served on the Armed Services, Judiciary and Veterans Affairs committees. He served as Senate president pro tem from 1981 to 1987 and from 1995 to 2001.
For more on Thurmond, click here (http://www.strom.clemson.edu/strom/bio.html).