*** Courtesy of Grand Lodge CA site ***


Submitted by:Laura Normand

In the Oval Office of the White House on December 10, President George W. Bush presented the 2008 Presidential Citizens Medal to 23 individuals, including California Mason Forrest Bird.

Bird, member of Palm Springs Lodge No. 693 and featured in the Spring 2008 issue of California Freemason magazine for his work as a scientist, inventor, and aviator, was awarded the prestigious medal in recognition of his life-saving inventions. His Bird respirator, introduced to the market in 1956, was the world’s first reliable, mass-produced medical respirator. A pediatric version followed, credited with reducing infant mortality in low birth weight babies by 60 percent.

Over the years, Bird has continued to improve upon his devices and create new ones, such as Intrapulmonary Percussive Ventilation and the first mobile ventilator system. "Through his innovation, (Bird) has helped transform and enhance the quality of life for people around the globe," reads the citation of the Presidential Citizens Medal.

The Presidential Citizens Medal was established in 1969 to recognize U.S. citizens who have performed exemplary deeds of service for the nation. The medal is one of the highest honors that the president can confer upon a civilian, second only to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Approximately 100 people have received the medal since 1969.