Entries in Medal of Freedom (2)


President Obama Awards Medal of Freedom to Israel’s Shimon Peres

Uriel Sinai/Getty Image(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama presented the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to Israeli President Shimon Peres Wednesday night, calling him “the essence of Israel itself -- an indomitable spirit that will not be denied.”

"Shimon teaches us to never settle for the world as it is. We have a vision for the world as it ought to be, and we have to strive for it,” Obama said at a White House dinner in Peres’ honor.  “He knows what we must never forget: With faith in ourselves and courage in our hearts, no dream is too big, no vision is beyond our reach.”

The president said the longtime Israeli leader knows the “necessity of strength” but also that a nation’s security depends on “the righteousness of its deeds -- its moral compass.”

Obama praised Peres for strengthening the “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel, saying “no individual has done so much over so many years to build our alliance and to bring our two nations closer.”

Accepting the award, Peres, 88, said it was a “testament to the historic friendship between our two nations.”

”I receive this honor today on behalf of the people of Israel.  They are the true recipients of this honor.  With this moving gesture, you are paying, Mr. President, tribute to generations upon generations of Jews who dreamed of, fought for a state of their own -- a state that would give them a shelter; a state that they could really defend by themselves,” he said.

"On their behalf, I thank you.  I thank America for days of concern, for sleepless nights, caring for our safety, caring for our future,” he said.

Peres also discussed the threats facing Israel today, notably rising concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

"It is our responsibility to our own people, to our friends throughout the world, to posterity, that the Iranian threat must be stopped, and it cannot be delayed,” he said, thanking Obama for building a coalition to meet this threat.

"You started, rightly, with economic sanctions.  You made it clear -- rightly, again -- that all options are on the table. Clearly, we support you and your policy,” he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Awards German Chancellor Merkel the Medal of Freedom

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- At Tuesday night’s State Dinner in the Rose Garden, Obama presented German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award the president may bestow.

In his comments before presenting the award, Obama described Merkel as a symbol of freedom given her childhood in communist East Germany.

“She remembers when the Wall went up and how everyone in her church was crying….Asked to spy for the secret police, she refused.  And the night the Wall came down, she crossed over, like so many others, and finally experienced what she calls the ‘incredible gift of freedom,’” Obama said.

“Tonight, we honor Angela Merkel not for being denied her freedom, or even for attaining her freedom, but for what she achieved when she gained her freedom,” the president declared.  

Merkel is the first East German, and the first woman, to be Germany's chancellor.

Merkel said that as a little girl growing up in a part of Germany without freedom, imagining that she would one day “stand in the Rose Garden of the White House and receive the Medal of Freedom from an American president, that was certainly beyond even my wildest dreams.”

The Medal of Freedom is usually an honor bestowed upon Americans although, as the president pointed out, Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl are past recipients.

The al fresco dinner in the Rose Garden just outside the West Wing and Oval Office was a rare venue for such an occasion. The décor was intended to have a “clean austere feel” and embraced the German Bauhaus School of design, according to the White House.

The evening concluded with musical performances by the National Symphony Orchestra and singer-songwriter James Taylor.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio