Known to millions of Americans from his presence on radio and television, the Roman Catholic cleric from New York received the Legion's Distinguished Service Medal in 1957.

"We recognize in you a kindred spirit who, like The American Legion, is zealously fighting against the infiltrations of godless communism and who, by your understanding and brilliant sermons, are bringing our people ‘back to God' - a program which I know you realize is being sponsored by our American Legion posts throughout the world," Past National Commander Arthur J. Connell said.

Sheen accepted the honor, saying, "I have been honored today by the greatest group in our nation: the men and women who have fought in one or two wars, never once in a war of offense and never once to win for America a single foot of alien territory."

The first cleric to receive the Distinguished Service Medal added, "You do not become members of the armed forces in order to die. That is not the vocation of a soldier. But you become members of the armed forces ready to die in order that certain loyalties will not be trespassed."

Ordained a priest in Peoria, Ill., in 1919, Sheen taught theology and philosophy and served as a parish priest. He studied at the Catholic University of America and the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. In 1923, Sheen was the first American to earn the Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy.

Sheen became a fixture of the airwaves with his radio program "The Catholic Hour" from 1930 to 1950 and his television show "Life Is Worth Living" from 1951 to 1957. He also hosted "The Fulton Sheen Program" from 1961-68.

Sheen served as auxiliary bishop of New York from 1951-65 and bishop of Rochester, N.Y., from 1966-69. He died in 1979 at 84, shortly after Pope John Paul II visited New York and proclaimed, "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus Christ. You are a loyal son of the church." The long process to pursue sainthood for Sheen began in 2002.

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