On Thursday, President Joe Biden awarded the Medal of Freedom, which is the countries highest honor, to 17 people, including three posthumous awards which were to John McCain, Steve Jobs and Richard Trumka.
The award is 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,” according to the White House.
“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities,” the White House said in a statement last week announcing the recipients. “These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation, hard work, perseverance, and faith.”
Other recipients included actor Denzel Washington, gymnast Simone Biles, soccer star Megan Rapinoe and former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
“The Fourth of July week reminds us what brought us together long ago and still binds us, binds us at our best,” Biden said on Thursday. “What we strive for, we the people, doing what we can to ensure the idea of America, the cause of freedom, shines like the sun to light up the future of the world. That’s the soul of our nation. That’s who we are as Americans. And that’s what we see, an extraordinary, extraordinary group of Americans up here on this stage that I have the honor to recognize today with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian award.”
Biden spoke about each recipient individually. Addressing Simone Biles first, he stated: “When we see her compete, we see unmatched, unmatched power and determination, grace and daring. A trailblazer and a role model, when she stands on the podium, we see what she is, absolute courage to turn personal pain into greater purpose, to stand up and speak for those who cannot stand for herself. Today, she adds to her medal count of 32, how are you going to find room? 32 Olympic and world championship medals.”
Cindy McCain accepted the award on behalf of John McCain. Biden shared some words about his and McCain’s relationship. “We used to argue like hell on the Senate floor. But then we’d go down and have lunch together afterwards, as you remember,” Biden said.
He added, “We ran against each other, which I didn’t like, on tickets for the highest office in the land. I was a candidate for vice president, he was the candidate for president. I never stopped admiring John. Never said a negative thing about him in my life, because I knew his honor, his courage, and his commitment.”
The award was originally set up by President John F. Kennedy in 1960.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: BLOOMBERG
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