Biden to Present 17 With Medal of Freedom

Recipients to be honored next week at White House
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 1, 2022 4:06 PM CDT
White House Names Medal of Freedom Recipients
Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Wilma L. Vaught is honored at the Capitol in Washington in 2016.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

(Newser) – President Biden will present the nation's highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 17 people next week, including actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles, and the late John McCain, the Arizona Republican with whom Biden served in the US Senate. Biden will also recognize Sandra Lindsay, the New York City nurse who rolled up her sleeve on live television in December 2020 to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine dose that was pumped into an arm in the US, the White House announced Friday. Biden's honors list includes both living and deceased honorees from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice advocacy, the AP reports. The honorees are:

  • Biles: The most decorated US gymnast ever has won 32 Olympic and World Championship medals. She is an advocate on matters including athletes' mental health, children in foster care, and sexual assault victims.
  • Lindsay: The nurse has became an advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations.
  • McCain: The senator, who died in 2018, spent more than five years in captivity in North Vietnam while serving in the Navy. He later represented Arizona in both houses of Congress and was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. Biden said McCain was a hero.
  • Washington: The double Oscar-winning actor, director, and producer is a longtime spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
  • Sister Simone Campbell: A member of the Sisters of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization, Campbell is an advocate for economic justice, and overhauling the immigration system and health care policy.
  • Julieta Garcia: A former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, Garcia was the first Latina to become a college president, the White House said. She was named one of the nation's best college presidents by Time magazine.
  • Gabrielle Giffords: A former US House member from Arizona, the Democrat founded Giffords, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence. She was shot in the head in January 2011 during a constituent event in Tucson and gravely wounded.
  • Fred Gray: One of the first Black members of the Alabama legislature after Reconstruction, Gray was a civil rights lawyer who represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Steve Jobs: The co-founder, chief executive, and chair of Apple died in 2011.
  • Father Alexander Karloutsos: The assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America has counseled several US presidents.
  • Khizr Khan: An immigrant from Pakistan, Khan's Army officer son was killed in Iraq. Khan gained national prominence and became a 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 20th century civil rights campaigns and worked with King.
  • Megan Rapinoe: The Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women's World Cup soccer champion is an advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights.
  • Alan Simpson: The retired GOP senator from Wyoming has been an advocate for campaign finance changes, responsible governance, and marriage equality.
  • Richard Trumka: President of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade at the time of his August 2021 death, Trumka was a past president of the United Mine Workers.
  • Wilma Vaught: A brigadier general, Vaught is one of the most decorated women in US military history, breaking gender barriers as she has risen through the ranks. When Vaught retired in 1985, she was one of only seven female generals in the Armed Forces.
  • Raúl Yzaguirre: A civil rights advocate, Yzaguirre was president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years. He served as US ambassador to the Dominican Republic under Obama.
(Read more Presidential Medal of Freedom stories.)

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