For a career in public service and his support of veterans, Thornburgh received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal from a fellow Pennsylvanian, National Commander Dominic DiFrancesco, in 1992.
"I have been privileged to devote my public career to the rule of law at home and abroad," said Thornburgh, accepting the award. "I served two presidents, Ronald Reagan and George (H.W.) Bush, who were strictly committed to the rule of law, tough law enforcement at home, and the marshalling of the forces of freedom and democracy to resist the aggression and regimentation which constantly threatened humanity and decency worldwide."
Educated at Yale and the University of Pittsburgh Law School, Thornburgh made a failed bid for the U.S. House in 1966. He served as a U.S. attorney and an assistant attorney general for President Ford before he was elected to two terms as governor of Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1987.
In 1988, Reagan tapped him to be attorney general, a post he held for three years, through part of Bush's term. He then made an unsuccessful run for a vacant Senate seat, and instead served as undersecretary general to the United Nations from 1992 to 1993.
As attorney general, Thornburgh targeted white-collar crime, drug trafficking, terrorism and money-laundering. Legal Times said he had a "reputation as one of the most effective champions that prosecutors have ever had."
After leaving public life, Thornburgh returned to the law firm where he started his legal career in 1958. He and his wife, Ginny, remain advocates of people with disabilities. With their son, Peter, who was disabled in a car accident, the Thornburghs were named Family of the Year by the ARC of Pennsylvania in 1985.
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