President Joe Biden released a list on Friday, naming seventeen people he planned to present with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony scheduled to take place following the July 4th holiday weekend.
Biden himself is a recipient of the Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, which was awarded in 2017 by former President Barack Obama to honor his service both in the Senate and in the Vice Presidency.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors,” the White House statement read.
“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith. They 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.”
The list of recipients, who will receive the award in a ceremony at the White House on July 7, is as follows:
- Simone Biles, the most decorated gymnast in history.
- Sister Simone Campbell, the former executive director of a Catholic social justice advocacy group.
- Dr. Julieta Garcia, the first Hispanic woman to serve as the president of a university
- Former Senator Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), a survivor of gun violence.
- Fred Gray, “one of the first black members of the Alabama State legislature after Reconstruction.”
- Steve Jobs, founder and longtime head of Apple, Inc., and CEO of PIXAR animation studios.
- Father Alexander Karloutsos, former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.
- Khzir Khan, a Gold Star father — who famously feuded with former President Donald Trump after speaking at the Democratic National Convention — and founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center.
- Sandra Lindsay, a “critical care nurse from New York who served on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic and was the first to receive the vaccine” after clinical trials.
- John McCain, the late U.S. Senator (R-AZ) who was awarded a Purple Heart with one gold star after serving in Vietnam and spending time as a prisoner of war.
- Diane Nash, a “founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee” who organized a number of civil rights campaigns.
- Megan Rapinoe, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion, and a vocal advocate for gender pay equality.
- Alan Simpson, former U.S. Senator (D-WY), and advocate for campaign finance reform and marriage equality.
- Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO for more than ten years, president of the United Mine Workers, and secretary-treasurer of the AFL-CIO.
- Brigadier General Wilma Vaught, “one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military.”
- Denzel Washington, an “actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.”
- Raúl Yzaguirre, a “civil rights advocate who served as CEO and president of National Council of La Raza for thirty years.”