WASHINGTON – President Biden announced the names of 17 people today who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The highest civilian award in the country, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is given to people who have excelled in advancing the wealth, values, or security of the United States, international peace, or other major societal, public, or private activities.
President Biden has frequently stated that the word “possibilities” sums up America. These seventeen Americans represent the heart of the country—dogged work, tenacity, and faith—and show the strength of potential. They have bravely acted to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for future generations. They have dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us. They have overcame significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences.
On July 7, 2022, the awards will be given out at the White House.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom will be presented to the following people:
With a total of 32 medals at the Olympics and World Championships, Simone Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history. Biles is a well-known ally of victims of sexual assault, children in foster care, and athletes’ mental health and safety.
Simone Campbell, a sister
Former Executive Director of the Catholic social justice group NETWORK, Sister Simone Campbell is a member of the Sisters of Social Service. She is a well-known supporter of immigration reform, healthcare reform, and economic fairness.
The University of Texas at Brownsville’s former president, Dr. Julieta Garca, was recognised as one of Time magazine’s top college presidents. Dr. Garca spent her entire career working with students from the Southwest Border region. She was the first Hispanic woman to hold the position of college president.
The youngest woman ever elected to the Arizona State Senate, former congresswoman Gabby Giffords originally served in the state legislature of Arizona before moving on to the U.S. Congress. She co-founded Giffords, a group dedicated to gun violence prevention, as a victim of gun violence.
One of the first black legislators in Alabama after Reconstruction was Fred Gray. He was an attorney who worked with Martin Luther King, the NAACP, and Rosa Parks. King referred to him as “the chief counsel for the protest movement.”
Apple Inc. (posthumous)
Steve Jobs (d. 2011) served as the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple, Inc., as well as the CEO of Pixar and a key position at the Walt Disney Company. His foresight, ingenuity, and imagination resulted in technologies that have and continue to revolutionise the computer, music, cinema, and wireless industries as well as the way the world communicates.
Alexander Karloutsos, the priest
Father Alexander Karloutsos served as the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s former vicar general. He was named a Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew after serving as a priest for more than 50 years and offering advice to various American presidents.
Father of a Gold Star child and the brainchild of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center, Khizr Khan He was a member of President Biden’s Commission on International Religious Freedom and is a well-known defender of the rule of law and religious liberty.
Sandra Lindsay is a critical care nurse from New York who participated in the COVID-19 pandemic response first-hand. She is a well-known supporter of vaccinations and the mental health of healthcare professionals. She was the first American to get the COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials.
McCain, John (posthumous)
As a member of the U.S. Navy in Vietnam, John McCain (d. 2018), a public servant, received a Purple Heart with one gold star. In addition, he spent decades representing Arizonans in the Senate and House of Representatives. In 2008, he was the Republican contender for president.
The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, of which Diane Nash was a founding member, was responsible for some of the most significant civil rights activities of the 20th century. Martin Luther King regarded Nash as the “driving spirit in the nonviolent assault against segregation at lunch counters” because of their close working relationship.
Olympic gold winner and two-time Women’s World Cup victor Megan Rapinoe. In the National Women’s Soccer League, she also serves as captain of OL Reign. She is a well-known supporter of racial justice, LGBTQI+ rights, and pay equality for women.
For 18 years, Alan Simpson represented Wyoming in the Senate. He has been an outspoken supporter of causes including marriage equality, ethical leadership, and campaign finance reform during his time in public service.
Robert Trumka (posthumous)
Richard Trumka, who passed away in 2021, served as the United Mine Workers’ president for more than ten years, the secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO, and the president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO. He was an outspoken supporter of social and economic justice throughout his career.
As she advanced through the ranks, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, one of the most decorated women in American military history, constantly broke down barriers based on gender. She was one of just seven female generals in the military at the time of her retirement in 1985.
John David Washington
Actor, director, and producer Denzel Washington is the recipient of the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award in addition to two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and other honours. Additionally, for more than 25 years, he was the Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s national spokesperson.
A. R. Yzaguirre
Ral Yzaguirre, a supporter of civil rights, spent thirty years as the CEO and president of the National Council of La Raza. Under President Barack Obama, he additionally held the position of US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic.