One of the highest honors the governor can bestow on a North Carolina citizen.
Created in the mid 1960s, the award is given to residents in recognition of a proven record of service or some other special achievement. The recipient receives a certificate and the privilege of proposing, at any time, the North Carolina Toast:
Here's to the land of the long leaf pine,
The summer land where the sun doth shine,
Where the weak grow strong and the strong grow great,
Here's to "down home," the Old North State!
Past recipients include such famous Tar Heels as Maya Angelou, Billy Graham, Michael Jordan, Bob Timberlake and Rick Hendrick, along with longtime state employees, prominent business executives and noted politicians, athletes, musicians, actors and advocates.
"The certificate is most often presented when a person retires," notes an application form by Gov. Beverly Perdue's office. "A State Employee is awarded The Order of the Long Leaf Pine if he/she has 30+ years of service to North Carolina."
The governor also gives out The Old North State Award for North Carolinians with a record of service, a certificate of appreciation for long-serving state employees and volunteers, a Laurel Wreath Award for athletes and an Honorary Tar Heel award for non-residents.
A Raleigh retiree claims he was the first American to receive the award.