On this day in history in 2009, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to President Barack Obama “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”. He is the third sitting U.S. president to receive this honor. The president received the prize only 9 months in office. His appointment of the prize was controversial, however, because he was in the midst of balancing two international wars.
Conservatives believed his battle with insurgents in the Middle East went against the principles of the Nobel Prize. The president expressed openly that he didn’t feel like he deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, but knew the meaning behind the decision.
The prize came with a $1.4 million monetary gift of which the president donated to ten separate charities. The charities primarily support students, veterans’ families and survivors of Haiti’s earthquake. For example, $750,000 went to six different groups that assist high school graduates with college tuition: The College Summit, The Posse Foundation, United Negro College Fund, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, the Appalachian Leadership and Education Foundation, and the American Indian College Fund. President Obama also donated $100,000 to AfriCare, for HIV/AIDS programs and $100,000 to the Central Asia Institute.
$250,000 went to the Fisher House, which provides housing for families of Veterans in need of medical care. Another $200,000 went to the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti.
In the early parts of his presidency, Obama openly called for an end to nuclear weapons during his visit to Prague. Prior to taking office, Obama promised to ban torture in interrogations and pledged to close Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the military prison known for aggressive interrogation techniques.