Entries in Medal of Freedom (5)


Obama Awards Medals Of Freedom

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama awarded the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to thirteen cultural and political icons Tuesday, saying that the recipients have “marked my life in profound ways.”

This year’s honorees included music legend Bob Dylan, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison and former astronaut and U.S. Senator John Glenn, the first American to orbit the Earth.

“So many of these people are my heroes individually,” the president told the “packed house” in the East Room of the White House. “I know how they impacted my life.”

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

The president, who admitted to being a “really big fan” of Dylan’s music, recalled being in college “listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something about this country that was so vital.”

Dylan, wearing dark sunglasses and a bow tie, sat expressionless as the president spoke of the effect of his voice: “Its unique gravelly power was redefining, not just what music sounded like, but the message it carried and how it made people feel.”

The president shared a similar connection with Toni Morrison, saying her prose “brings us that kind of moral and emotional intensity that few writers ever attempt.”

“I remember reading Song of Solomon when I was a kid and not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think,” he said.

The Medal of Freedom recognizes “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,” according to the White House.

Dylan’s "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Mr. Tambourine Man," Morrison’s novels Beloved and Jazz, and Albright’s efforts to champion democracy and human rights across the globe were recognized as accomplishments worthy of this honor.

Other recipients Tuesday included retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, civil rights advocate and labor leaders Dolores Huerta, and Pat Summitt, the “winningest” NCAA basketball coach who led the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team to more Final Four appearances than any other team, among others.

“Some of them are household names. Others have labored quietly out of the public eye. Most of them may never fully appreciate the difference they’ve made or the influence that they’ve had, but that’s where our job comes in,” the president said.

“It’s our job to help let them know how extraordinary their impact has been on our lives. And so today we present this amazing group with one more accolade for a life well led, and that’s the Presidential Medal of Freedom,” he said.

Full list of recipients and their accomplishments, as described by the White House:

Madeleine Albright

From 1997 to 2001, under President William J. Clinton, Albright served as the 64th United States Secretary of State, the first woman to hold that position.  During her tenure, she worked to enlarge NATO and helped lead the Alliance’s campaign against terror and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, pursued peace in the Middle East and Africa, sought to reduce the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons, and was a champion of democracy, human rights, and good governance across the globe.  From 1993 to 1997, she was America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  Since leaving office, she founded the Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management, returned to teaching at Georgetown University, and authored five books.  Albright chairs the National Democratic Institute and is President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation.

John Doar

Doar was a legendary public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s.  He served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963.  Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon.  Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.

Bob Dylan

One of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, Dylan released his first album in 1962.  Known for his rich and poetic lyrics, his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.  He has won 11 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award.  He was named a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Art et des Lettres and has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.  Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts.  He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists.  He continues recording and touring around the world today.

William Foege

A physician and epidemiologist, Foege helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.  He was appointed Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1977 and, with colleagues, founded the Task Force for Child Survival in 1984.  Foege became Executive Director of The Carter Center in 1986 and continues to serve the organization as a Senior Fellow.  He helped shape the global health work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and remains a champion of a wide array of issues, including child survival and development, injury prevention, and preventative medicine.  Foege’s leadership has contributed significantly to increased awareness and action on global health issues, and his enthusiasm, energy, and effectiveness in these endeavors have inspired a generation of leaders in public health.

John Glenn

Glenn is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator.  In 1962, he was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth.  After retiring from the Marine Corps, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 1974. He was an architect and sponsor of the 1978 Nonproliferation Act and served as Chairman of the Senate Government Affairs committee from 1987 until 1995.  In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to visit space at the age of 77. He retired from the Senate in 1999. Glenn is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor.

Gordon Hirabayashi

Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory.  Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew.  Hirabayashi appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943.  Following World War II and his time in prison, Hirabayashi obtained his doctoral degree in sociology and became a professor.  In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  Hirabayashi died on January 2, 2012.

Dolores Huerta

Huerta is a civil rights, workers, and women’s advocate. With Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.  Huerta has served as a community activist and a political organizer, and was influential in securing the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, and disability insurance for farmworkers in California.  In 2002, she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, an organization dedicated to developing community organizers and national leaders.  In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.

Jan Karski

Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation.  Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials.  He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt.  Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.

Juliette Gordon Low

Born in 1860, Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912.  The organization strives to teach girls self-reliance and resourcefulness.  It also encourages girls to seek fulfillment in the professional world and to become active citizens in their communities.  Since 1912, the Girl Scouts has grown into the largest educational organization for girls and has had over 50 million members.  Low died in 1927.  This year, the Girl Scouts celebrate their 100th Anniversary, calling 2012 “The Year of the Girl.”

Toni Morrison

One of our nation’s most celebrated novelists, Morrison is renowned for works such as Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Beloved, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.  When she became the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1993, Morrison’s citation captured her as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”  She created the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University to convene artists and students.  Morrison continues to write today.

Shimon Peres

An ardent advocate for Israel’s security and for peace, Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007.  First elected to the Knesset in 1959, he has served in a variety of positions throughout the Israeli government, including in twelve Cabinets as Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Transport and Communications. Peres served as Prime Minister from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996.  Along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Foreign Minister during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords. Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.

John Paul Stevens

Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010, when he retired as the third longest-serving Justice in the Court’s history.  Known for his independent, pragmatic and rigorous approach to judging, Justice Stevens and his work have left a lasting imprint on the law in areas such as civil rights, the First Amendment, the death penalty, administrative law, and the separation of powers.  He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, and previously served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Stevens is a veteran of World War II, in which he served as a naval intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star.

Pat Summitt

In addition to accomplishing an outstanding career as the all-time winningest leader among all NCAA basketball coaches, Summitt has taken the University of Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball.  She has received numerous awards, including being named Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century.  Off the court, she has been a spokesperson against Alzheimer’s.  The Pat Summitt Foundation will make grants to nonprofits to provide education and awareness, support to patients and families, and research to prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama to Honor Political and Cultural Icons With Medal of Freedom

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- What do music legend Bob Dylan, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and novelist Toni Morrison have in common? On Tuesday they will join the small and elite club of political and cultural icons to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor: the Medal of Freedom.

This year’s Medal of Freedom recipients, 13 in all, will come together at the White House this afternoon, where President Obama will honor their accomplishments and present the awards.

The Medal of Freedom recognizes “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,” according to the White House.

Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Mr. Tambourine Man,” Morrison’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Beloved, and Albright’s efforts to champion democracy, human rights and good governance across the globe are all considered accomplishments worthy of this honor.

Other recipients include U.S. Sen. John Glenn, the first American to orbit Earth; retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens; former Israeli President Shimon Peres and Pat Summitt, the “winningest” NCAA basketball coach who led the University of Tennessee’s women’s basketball team to more Final Four appearances than any other team.

“These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our nation,” the president said in a written statement. “They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place.  I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Presents Robert Gates with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates knew he was going to receive a grand send-off Thursday from the military on his final day on the job, but he did not expect that President Obama would also honor him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award.

President Obama and Vice President Biden were among the hundreds that gathered on a parade field outside the Pentagon that has sweeping views of Washington’s monuments.

The president praised Gates as “a remarkable public servant” and said he could think “of no better way to express my appreciation to someone who I have come to admire and whom I consider a friend.”  
Gates seemed genuinely surprised to receive the honor and jokingly told the president that it was “a big surprise, but we should have known a couple of months ago. You're getting pretty good at this covert ops stuff.”

Gates called serving as Defense Secretary the “greatest honor and privilege of my life.”  He thanked President Bush for “giving me this historic opportunity" and for President Obama’s confidence in asking him to stay on in the post even though Gates was “someone he did not know at all.”

President Obama said that Gates had earned the right to retire after serving seven Presidents, but that when Gates agreed to his request to continue to as Defense Secretary in his administration it was because he is a “humble American patriot, a man of common sense and decency: quite simply one of our nation’s finest public servants.”

Obama praised Gates for his advice on national security matters and dedication to having the Defense Department serve “our troops in the field as well as they serve us. “

The President described Gates’ greatest legacy as “the lives you saved and the confidence you gave our men and woman in battle who knew that there was a Secretary of Defense who had their backs and who loved them and who fought for them and who did everything in his power to bring them home safe."

In the end, Gates acknowledged that the troops would always be on his mind.  “I'll just say here that I will think of these young warriors -- the ones who fought, the ones who keep on fighting, the ones who never made it back -- till the end of my days.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


'The Best of Who We Are': Obama Honors Medal of Freedom Recipients

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Calling them a group of people who “reveal the best of who we are, and who we aspire to be,” President Obama honored fifteen people with the Medal of Freedom in an East Room ceremony Tuesday.

The Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor presented to people 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.”

“When you look at the men and women who are here today, it says something about who we are as a people,” President Obama said Tuesday afternoon.

Fifteen people were honored, one posthumously. They included sportsmen, civil rights leaders, poets, politicians, cellists and a former president. President Obama took a moment to honor each person -- with a touching anecdote from their life and spoke about the broader effect they’ve had on the world.

For Maya Angelou, the president said, she “found her voice,” after enduring trauma and abuse that led her to stop speaking. “It's a voice that's spoken to millions -- including my mother; which is why my sister is named ‘Maya.’"

One award was given posthumously -- to Dr. Tom Little -- an optometrist murdered in 2010 by the Taliban while returning from a humanitarian mission in Afghanistan.

Other honorees included businessman Warren Buffet, concert cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Hall of Fame outfielder/first baseman Stan "The Man" Musial, basketball legend Bill Russell, former President George H.W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, civil rights leader Congressman John Lewis, co-founder of the National Resources Defense Council John H. Adams, American artist Jasper Johns, Holocaust survivor and author Gerda Weissmann Klein, civil rights activist Sylvia Mendez,  American diplomat Jean Kennedy Smith and labor leader John Sweeney.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐


President Obama to Award Medal of Freedom to 15 Recipients

Photo Courtesy - Chip Somodevilla/ Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama will award the Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- to 15 recipients Tuesday, which include a former president, a famous poet and a Hall of Fame baseball player.

The medal is awarded annually "to 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."

The 15 honorees were announced last year in November and "come from a broad range of backgrounds and they’ve excelled in a broad range of fields, but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place," President Obama said.

The 2010 Medal of Freedom recipients are:

-- Former President George H. W. Bush
-- Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Angela Merkel
-- Rep. John Lewis of Georgia
-- Co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, John H. Adams
-- Author, poet, actress and civil rights activist, Dr. Maya Angelou
-- Investor, industrialist and philanthropist, Warren Buffett
-- Artist, Jasper Johns
-- Jewish Holocaust survivor, Gerda Weissmann Klein
-- Optometrist, Dr. Tom Little (Posthumous)
-- Cellist, Yo-Yo Ma
-- Civil rights activist, Sylvia Mendez
-- National baseball Hall of Fame first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, Stan “The Man” Musial
-- Former Boston Celtics Captain and five-time NBA Most Valuable Player, Bill Russell
-- Founder of the non-profit organization VSA, Jean Kennedy Smith
-- Current President Emeritus of the AFL-CIO, John J. Sweeney´╗┐

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio