Media Courtesy of NY Daily News
On Monday, President Barack Obama bestowed the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, upon 18 outstanding individuals in the arts, sports and politics. The most well known of these honorees would likely be Academy Award winning actress Meryl Streep, legendary Motown musician Stevie Wonder, and Emmy Award winning journalist and author Tom Brokaw. Source: USA Today
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is bestowed upon those individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors” as established in Executive Order 11085, signed by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 when the award was established. Source: Wiki
During the ceremony, President Obama added that the award recognized “people who have made America stronger and wiser and more humane and more beautiful." Source: Yahoo
Other recipients of the award included actress Marlo Thomas and author Isabelle Allende in arts, and recognized for public service were Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, former Rep. Abner Mikva of Illinois and retiring Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., the longest-serving member of Congress. Also honored were Native American activist Suzan Harjo, golfer Charles Sifford, and physicist Mildred Dresselhaus. Composer Stephen Sondheim was scheduled to receive an award, but was unable to attend, to which President Obama has stated he will be included next year.
The award can also be bestowed posthumously, as it was in the case of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, martyrs of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s. Other posthumous recipients were choreographer Alvin Ailey, Rep. Patsy Mink of Hawaii, and Rep. Edward Roybal of California, founder of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
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