President Joe Biden announced on Friday that he will be awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to seventeen recipients, including denzel washington and Simone Biles.
The Medal of Freedom is traditionally presented to those individuals who have made “exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” and is considered to be the nation’s highest civilian honor. In addition to the two-time Oscar-winning actor and the seven-time Olympic medalist, the president will also offer posthumous honors to Apple founder Steve Jobs and the late Arizona Republican John McCain, who served in the US Senate alongside Biden for many years . These awards are scheduled to be presented at the White House on July 7, 2022.
President Biden will also honor New York City nurse Sandra Lindsay, who received the first COVID-19 vaccine dose administered in America live on television in December 2020. The medal will be given to Congresswoman Gabby Giffordsas well as Dr. Julieta Garciathe first Hispanic woman to serve as a college president, Sister Simone Campbella prominent advocate for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy, and Fred Gray, one of the first Black members of the Alabama State legislature and an attorney for Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King. Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe will also be honored, as will former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpsonformer AFL-CIO president Richard Trumkafounding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee Diane NashGold Star father and founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center Khizr Khan, Father Alexander Karloutsoscivil rights advocate Raúl Yzaguirreand Brigadier General Wilma Vaught who is one of the most decorated women in the history of the United States military.
In a press release announcing these honorees, the White House explained that “These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith. They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with obstacles to drive change in their communities—and across the world—while blazing trails for generations to come .”
President Biden has also been a recipient of the Medal of Freedom himself. In January 2017, a week before his term as vice president ended, he was awarded the honor by President Barack Obama for his decades of public service as a longtime US Senator and Vice President.