Fiedler became conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra in 1930, a position he would hold for half a century. He strove to bring classical music to a wider audience, making numerous recordings with the Boston Pops and instituting a s…eries of concerts on the Esplanade on the Charles River.
Several people wrote to the White House recommending that Fiedler be awarded the Medal of Freedom. Among this group were Massachusetts Representative Margaret Heckler and Senator Edward Kennedy, who called Fiedler an “American Ambassador of Music” for his world-wide performances.
His Medal of Freedom citation recognized these many accomplishments:
“Violinist, conductor and musical innovator, Maestro Fiedler has bridged the gap between popular and classical music and given millions around the world a greater appreciation of America’s rich cultural heritage. His spirit and zest for living have made an immeasurable contribution to the quality of American life.”
Jesse Owens received the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Garden of the White House on August 5, 1976. President Ford presented him with the nation’s highest civilian honor 40 years after he won four gold medals at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.