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Biden to Present Medals of Freedom to 17 Outstanding Civilians

By: Vincent Chi

Joe Biden will present the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 civilians, most notably Simone Biles, Denzel Washington, and the late John McCain. The White House first shared his honors lists with The Associated Press. The list includes living and deceased honorees from several industries: entertainment, sports, politics, military, academia, and the civil rights and social justice movement.

The medals will be presented next week. Biden received one himself while he was Vice President.

Those who receive the medal “have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come,” says the White House.

Biles is the most decorated American gymnast ever, winning 32 combined Olympics and World Championship medals. She also advocated for athletes’ mental health, foster care, and victims of sexual assault.

Washington is one of only 44 actors, directors, and producers to win multiple Oscars. He is also the owner of a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He was the spokesperson for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America for a long time.

John McCain died of brain cancer in 2018, served in Vietnam as part of the navy, represented the House and the Senate, and was the 2008 republican presidential nominee, and Biden called him a “dear friend” and “a hero.”

The other 14 recipients include:

Sandra Linsley - First person in the US to receive the COVID vaccine.

Sister Simone Campbell - member of the Sister of Social Service and former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice group. She was also an advocate for economic justice.

Julieta Garcia - Former president of the University of Texas, first latina to become a college president. Named one of the nation’s best college presidents by Time magazine.

Gabrielle Giffords - Former house member for Arizona. She is an advocate in ending gun control.

Fred Gray - One of the first members of the Alabama Legislature post-Reconstruction, civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Steve Jobs - Co-founder and chief executive of Apple.

Father Alexander Karloutsos - Assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America, counseled several presidents.

Khizr Khan - Immigrant from Pakistan, spoke out against Trump during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, putting a target on his back.

Diane Nash - founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, organized one of the most important civil rights campaigns in the 20th century.

Megan Rapinoe - Olympic gold medalist, two-time women’s World Cup champion, and an advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice, and LGBTQI+ rights.

Alan Simpson - Former U.S. senator from Wyoming, service with Biden. Prominent figure for finance reform, responsible governance and marriage equality.

Richard Trumka - President of the AFL-CIO, until his death in 2021. Was also the president of the United Mine Workers.

Wilmer Vaught - Brigadier captain, one of the most decorated women in US military history. When she retired in 1985, she was one of 7 female generals in the Armed Forces.

Raúl Yzaguirre - Civil rights advocate, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years. Served as US ambassador to the Dominican Republic during the Obama Administration.

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