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Biden Announces Medal of Freedom Recipients
By: Bryan Zou
U.S. President Joe Biden named seventeen recipients to the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is the USA's highest civilian honor. The medal is given to citizens with exemplary contributions to the United States in various manners.
Biden says that America can be defined by its possibilities and the recipients demonstrate the possibility of hard work, perseverance, and faith. The variety of vocations in the recipients reflects this ideology.
The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7th, 2022. Some of the recipients are dead, and are posthumous awards, given to them in honor of their actions. The recipients are Simone Biles, Sister Simone Campbell, Julieta Garcia, Gabrielle Giffords, Fred Gray, Steve Jobs, Father Alexander Karloutsos, Khizr Khan, Sandra Lindsay, John McCain, Diane Nash, Megan Rapinoe, Alan Simpson, Richard Trumka, Wilma Vaught, Denzel Washington, and Raul Yzaguirre.
Some of the figures that stand out are Sister Simone Campbell, Father Alexander Karloutsos, Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe, Gabby Giffords, Fred Gray, Sandra Lindsay, Steve Jobs, and John McCain.
Sister Simone Campbell is a prominent member of the Sisters of Social Service and a former executive Director of Network, a Catholic social justice organization. She advocates for economic justice, immigration reform, and healthcare policy.
Another prominent religious figure is Father Alexander Karloutsos, who was a former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. He was named by His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Simone Biles is an Olympic athlete for gymnastics with 32 Olympic and world championship medals. She is regarded as one of the nation’s best gymnasts and advocates for athlete mental health and safety, foster care for children, and victims of sexual assault.
Megan Rapinoe is also an Olympic Athlete who is a gold medalist. She plays as the soccer team captain for the OL Reign in the National Women’s Soccer League and played in the Women’s World Cup twice. She is a prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights.
Gabby Giffords is a former Congresswoman who was the youngest woman to be elected to the Arizona State Senate. She first served in the Arizona legislature and later in the U.S. Congress. She survived her own case of gun violence and co-founded Giffords, a nonprofit organization dedicated to gun violence prevention, as a result.
Another important figure for social equality is Fred Gray, who was one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature since the Civil War’s Reconstruction. He was an attorney respected by many famous figures and organizations. At one point, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), and Martin Luther King Jr, who called him “the chief counsel for the protest movement”.
One of the recent figures chosen is Sandra Lindsay, who was a New York critical care nurse and made her mark in the front lines of COVID-19 pandemic response. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, outside of clinical trials. Among other things, she advocates for vaccines and mental health care workers.
A posthumous award was given to Steve Jobs, known as the co-founder and former CEO of Apple Inc. He also was the CEO of Pixar and made an influence on the Walt Disney Company. Many of his inventions are still used today, and his impact can be felt worldwide.
Finally, another medal given to a dead recipient is John McCain who died in 2018, as a soldier for the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He died on the battlefield and was awarded the prestigious Purple Heart medal, a medal given personally from the president to those who died in action.