Home Education Denzel Washington, Simone Biles, John McCain and more Medal of Freedom recipients:...

Denzel Washington, Simone Biles, John McCain and more Medal of Freedom recipients: NPR

44
0

President Biden will present gymnast Simone Biles with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at the White House on Thursday. Fellow honorees former Rep. Gabby Giffords and civil rights lawyer Fred Gray look on.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will present gymnast Simone Biles with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, at the White House on Thursday. Fellow honorees former Rep. Gabby Giffords and civil rights lawyer Fred Gray look on.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, in a ceremony that marked a welcome moment for a White House struggling with surveys indicating that the vast majority of Americans believe the country is on the wrong track low approval rating for Biden.

The 17 awarded range from 25-year-old Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast in history, who became an advocate for victims of sexual assault, to 91-year-old Fred Gray, whom Biden called one of the “most important civil rights lawyers in our history.”

“Today, [Biles] brings her medal count to 32 — I don’t know if you’ll find room,” Biden laughed as he spoke from the East Room of the White House. He praised Biles for her courage to “turn personal pain into a greater cause — to stand up for those who cannot speak for themselves” — and noted that she is the youngest person ever to receive the Medal of Freedom.

Biden thanked American soccer player Megan Rapinoe before presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Biden thanked American soccer player Megan Rapinoe before presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Biden also recognized the “remarkable career” of soccer star Megan Rapinoe and her campaign for equal pay for women.

“Beyond her World Cup titles and Olympic medals, Megan is a champion of an important American truth: that everyone, everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

Medal of Freedom recipients often depict the sitting president. Former President Donald Trump presented the award to some of his staunch political allies, such as Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan and radio host Rush Limbaugh, as well as athletes from one of his favorite sports — golf.

Biden’s honorees Thursday included both Republicans and Democrats, as well as giants of the labor and civil rights movements, two groups that have been central to his long political career.

Biden salutes retired Air Force Brig. General Wilma Waugh, one of the most decorated women in US military history.

Alex Wong/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Biden salutes retired Air Force Brig. General Wilma Waugh, one of the most decorated women in US military history.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The recipients were retired Air Force Gen. Wilma Waugh, one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history, Diane Nash, who worked closely with Dr. Martin Luther King and organized major civil rights campaigns, and the late Richard Trumkaformer president of the AFL-CIO and the United Mine Workers.

“No one has done more for American workers than him,” Biden said of Trumka.

“His work was tough, he always tried to do the right thing for working people,” Biden said. “In more than 30 years of friendship, he has always been honest, fair, solid and reliable – the kind of guy you want to have.”

“To so many people and to this nation, Sister Simone Campbell is a gift from God,” Biden said.

Alex Wong/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Alex Wong/Getty Images

“To so many people and to this nation, Sister Simone Campbell is a gift from God,” Biden said.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

He was also honored Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sisters of Social Service and former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization.

Biden recalled Sister Campbell’s efforts as part of “nuns on the bus” tour to “make the moral case that health care is a right in this country, not a privilege, and an obligation to help other people who need it most.”

“She embodies our nation’s covenant of trust, hope and progress, and I am proud to call her my friend,” Biden said.

Biden joked that he “shouldn’t have” told a certain story in his speech before launching into a recollection of a meeting when he was vice president with Pope Benedict, who asked him for advice.

“I smiled and said, “Well, one piece of advice. Take it easy on the nuns — they’re more popular than you,” he said to laughter from the audience. “The fact that he retired six weeks later, I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.”

Biden called former Rep. Gabby Giffords “one of the bravest people I’ve ever known.”

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Biden called former Rep. Gabby Giffords “one of the bravest people I’ve ever known.”

Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Biden also honored former Rep. Gabby Giffords, D-Ariz., who was the youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona state senate and went on to serve in the U.S. Congress. She was shot in the head and seriously injured in 2011 during election activities. Her husband, Democratic Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona, is up for re-election this November.

“Gabby is one of the bravest people I’ve ever known,” Biden said.

He called Giffords’ endurance “proof that we can channel the pain and sadness we see too often in America into a movement that will prevail,” before marking the passing of the latest bipartisan gun safety bill.

Sandra Lindsay, an intensive care nurse from New York who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and was the first American woman to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials, was also honored.

“If there are angels in heaven, they are all nurses, male and female,” Biden said.

He noted that Lindsey’s vaccination card and badge are part of the Smithsonian’s exhibit on the coronavirus pandemic.

Cindy McCain accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of her late husband, Senator John McCain.

Alex Wong/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Alex Wong/Getty Images

Cindy McCain accepts the Presidential Medal of Freedom on behalf of her late husband, Senator John McCain.

Alex Wong/Getty Images

The award goes posthumously to the late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Vietnam War veteran who died in 2018 brain cancer. McCain and Biden served next to each other in the Senate and found themselves on opposite sides of the 2008 presidential race, when McCain was the Republican nominee and Biden was the Senate. Barack Obama’s running mate.

Biden talked about his personal and professional relationship with McCain, whom he met while working on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“John and I traveled the world together,” Biden said. “We became friends. We agreed on much more than we disagreed.”

“Two things we never talked about — we never talked about his incarceration at the Hanoi Hilton, or the death of my wife and my daughter,” Biden recalled. “Somehow we seemed to understand each other. It was a long time ago. We both wanted to do better for the country we both loved and never wavered.”

Biden added: “Actually, I’ll admit to my fellow Democrats that I’m the guy who encouraged John to go home and run for office, really, because I knew what incredible courage and intelligence and conscience he had.”

Cindy McCain, who endorsed Biden in 2020accepted the medal on behalf of her deceased husband.

Biden also honored Khizr Khan, Gold Star father and founder of the Center for Constitutional Literacy and National Unity. Han attracted national attention speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, where he challenged Donald Trump’s call to ban Muslims from entering the United States and offered to lend the then-GOP candidate his pocket copy of the Constitution.

Also honored Thursday were Julieta Garcia, the first Hispanic woman to become a college president, inventor and innovator Steve Jobs (posthumously), Father Alexander Karloutas, former vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, former senator Alan Simpson and civil rights advocate Raul Izaguirre.

Actor and director Denzel Washington, another award-winner, could not attend in person after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Biden himself received this honor in 2017, when then-President Obama surprised his outgoing vice president with a medal. Obama called Biden “the lion of American history.”

Source link

Previous articleWhat the Supreme Court’s decision on religious schools means for Colorado
Next articleAt the live ISTE conference, lessons from the pandemic and new challenges