In Washington, On Thursday, President Biden will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 Americans, including soccer player Megan Rapinoe and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. Among those honored posthumously are late Sen. John McCain and co-founder of Apple Steve Jobs.
The highest civilian award in the nation, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is given to those who have made noteworthy contributions to the United States, world peace, or “significant societal, public, or private endeavors.”
“The week surrounding the Fourth of July serves as a reminder of what first brought us together and continues to unite us, at our strongest. What we aim for is that the idea of America, the cause of freedom, shines like the sun to illuminate the future of the world. We, the people, do what we can to achieve this. That is the essence of our country. That is who we Americans are. And that’s what we see: a remarkable, remarkable group of Americans up here on this stage, whom I have the honor to present with the Presidential Medal of Freedom today, the highest civilian honor bestowed by our country.”
Additionally present are Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff and Vice President Kamala Harris.
The president has frequently remarked that the word “possibilities” best captures what it means to be an American when the White House announced the 17 recipients.
The White House stated at the time that “these seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation—hard work, perseverance, and faith.” They “have bravely acted to drive change in their communities — and across the world — while blazing trails for future generations,” according to the statement. “They have dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us and overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences.”
In the 1960s, President John F. Kennedy created the honor. In 2017, Mr. Biden himself received the honor from former President Barack Obama.
The Thursday winners are as follows:
Biles, one of the greatest gymnasts of all time, has spoken out in favor of victims of sexual assault as well as the mental health and safety of athletes. She provided testimony regarding Larry Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics doctor who was found guilty of sexually assaulting hundreds of women and girls, on Capitol Hill last year.
Simone Campbell, a sister
Campbell, a Sister of Social Service, is an advocate for economic justice and immigration reform.
Garca served as The University of Texas at Brownsville’s previous president.
Giffords is a former congresswoman who has devoted her life to the fight against gun violence after surviving an attempted murder in 2011.
Martin Luther King Jr., the NAACP, and Rosa Parks were all clients of civil rights lawyer Gray.
Jobs, a co-founder of Apple who revolutionized global computing and communication, passed away in 2011.
Alexander Karloutsos, the priest
Karloutsos has counseled several American presidents and served as the Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
Khan is the father of a Gold Star soldier who spoke out against Trump during the 2016 Democratic National Convention.
Lindsay is a nurse from New York who participated in the COVID-19 pandemic first-hand.
Naval pilot McCain served for decades as a congressman and senator after spending years in captivity in Vietnam. In 2008, he was the Republican Party’s nominee for president. He passed away in 2018.
During the segregation era, Nash led significant civil rights campaigns.
Rapinoe, a member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team and an Olympic gold medalist, has fought for LBGTQ+ rights and pay parity.
Simpson served as a Wyoming senator for 18 years.
Prior to his passing last year, Trumka served as the AFL-president CIO’s for more than ten years.
According to the White House, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught broke down barriers for women in the military and was one of only seven female generals in the entire Armed Forces when she retired in 1985.
John David Washington
Washington, an Oscar-winning actor, has spent more than 25 years acting as an advocate for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
A. R. Yzaguirre
Yzaguirre, a supporter of civil rights, served as Barack Obama’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic.