TOP STORIES Biden to award Medal of Freedom to Biles, McCain,...

Biden to award Medal of Freedom to Biles, McCain, Giffords and others

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Simone Biles poses with a bronze medal in the balance beam competition during the artistic gymnastics competition at the Summer Olympics August 3, 2021 in Tokyo. President Biden will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Biles and 16 others at the White House next week.

Natasha Pisarenko/AP


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Natasha Pisarenko/AP

Simone Biles poses with a bronze medal in the balance beam competition during the artistic gymnastics competition at the Summer Olympics August 3, 2021 in Tokyo. President Biden will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Biles and 16 others at the White House next week.

Natasha Pisarenko/AP

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will present the country’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles, and the late John McCain, an Arizona Republican Biden worked with in the U.S. Senate.

Biden also acknowledges Sandra Lindsey, the New York City nurse who rolled up her sleeve on live television in December 2020 to receive the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine that was pumped into her arm in the United States, the White House announced Friday.

The list of Biden awards, which the White House first shared with the Associated Press, includes both living and deceased honorees from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice.

The Democratic president will present the medals at the White House next week.

Biden himself was awarded the medal. President Barack Obama honored Biden for his public service as a longtime U.S. Senator and Vice President by awarding him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in January 2017, a week before they left office.

The winners, who will receive medals from Biden, “overcame significant obstacles to impressive achievements in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to protecting the most vulnerable among us, and acted courageously to bring about change in their communities and around the world.” world, paving the way for future generations,” the White House said in a statement.

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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Alex Brandon/AP

Former Rep. Gabby Giffords will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Alex Brandon/AP

The White House said the honor is given to individuals who have made an exemplary contribution to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant public or private endeavours.

Biles is the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history, with 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is a vocal advocate for issues that are very personal to her, including the mental health of athletes, children in foster care, and victims of sexual abuse.

Lindsey became an advocate for COVID-19 vaccination after receiving her first dose in the US.

McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018, spent more than five years in captivity in Vietnam while serving in the US Navy. He later represented Arizona in both houses of Congress and was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee. Biden said McCain was a “dear friend” and a “hero”.

Washington is a two-time Oscar winner, actor, director and producer. He also has a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He is a longtime spokesperson for the Boys’ and Girls’ Clubs of America.

Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sister of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization, will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP


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Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sister of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization, will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The remaining 13 medal winners are:

— Sister Simone Campbell. Campbell is a member of the Sister of Social Service and a former Executive Director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She advocates for economic justice, overhauling the US immigration system, and health policy.

— Juliet Garcia. Former University of Texas at Brownsville president Garcia became the first Hispanic to serve as a college president, according to the White House. Time magazine named her one of the nation’s top college presidents.

— Gabriel Giffords. A former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Arizona, the Democrat founded the Giffords, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence. She was shot in the head in January 2011 during a founding event in Tucson and was critically injured.

— Fred Grey. Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama Legislature after Reconstruction. He was a prominent civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr.

– Steve Jobs. Jobs was the co-founder, CEO, and chairman of Apple Inc. He died in 2011.

– Father Alexander Karloutsos. Karloutsos is an assistant to Archbishop Demetrius of America. The White House said Karloutsos has advised several US presidents.

Khizr Khan. An immigrant from Pakistan, the son of an army officer Khan, was killed in Iraq. Khan rose to national prominence and became the target of Donald Trump’s wrath after speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

— Diane Nash. A founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Nash organized some of the most important civil rights campaigns of the 20th century and worked with King.

— Megan Rapinoe. The Olympic gold medalist and two-time women’s soccer world champion leads the OL Reign team in the Women’s National Soccer League. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equity, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights, speaking at the Biden White House.

— Alan Simpson. The retired U.S. senator from Wyoming worked with Biden and was a prominent advocate for campaign finance reform, responsible governance, and marriage equality.

— Richard Trumka. Trumka had been president of the 12.5 million member AFL-CIO for over a decade at the time of his death in August 2021. He was a former president of the Miners’ Association.

— Wilma Here. Brigadier General Voth is one of the most decorated women in US military history, breaking down gender barriers as she rose through the ranks. When Vaught retired in 1985, she was one of seven female generals in the armed forces.

— Raul Izaguirre. A civil rights advocate, Izaguirre was President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years. He was the US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under Obama.

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