Biles, Rapinoe, Denzel Washington to receive U.S. highest civilian honour

Simone Biles, Denzel Washington and Rapinoe

Simone Biles, Denzel Washington and Rapinoe

Four-times Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and twice World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe are among 17 individuals set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the the White House said.

Biden’s honours list, includes both living and deceased from the worlds of Hollywood, sports, politics, technology, the military, academia, and civil rights and social justice advocacy.

Honorees include Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington and the late U.S. Senator John McCain.

McCain, who died of brain cancer in 2018, spent more than five years in captivity in Vietnam while serving in the U.S. Navy.

He later represented Arizona in both houses of Congress and was the Republican presidential nominee in 2008.

Biden said McCain was a “dear friend” and “a hero.”

Washington is a double Oscar-winning actor, director and producer. He also has a Tony award, two Golden Globes and the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award.

He is a longtime spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

Biden will also recognize Sandra Lindsay, the New York City nurse who rolled up her sleeve on live television in December 2020 to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine dose that was pumped into an arm.

Lindsay became an advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations.

The other 12 medal recipients are:

–Sister Simone Campbell, a member of the Sister of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWRK, a Catholic social justice organization.

–Julieta Garcia, a former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, Garcia was the first Latina to become a college president.

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–Gabrielle Giffords, a former U.S. House member from Arizona, who founded Giffords, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence. She was shot in the head in January 2011 during a constituent event in Tucson and was gravely wounded.

–Fred Gray was one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature after Reconstruction. He was a prominent civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr.

–Steve Jobs, the co-founder, chief executive and chair of Apple Inc. He died in 2011.

–Father Alexander Karloutsos, the assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America, who has counseled several U.S. presidents.

–Khizr Khan, an immigrant from Pakistan, whose son, a military officer was killed in Iraq. Khan became a target of Donald Trump’s wrath, after speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

–Diane Nash, a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Nash organized some of the most important 20th century civil rights campaigns and worked with King.

–Alan Simpson, the retired U.S. senator from Wyoming, who served with Biden and has been a prominent advocate for campaign finance reform, responsible governance and marriage equality.

–Richard Trumka, president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade at the time of his August 2021 death. He was a past president of the United Mine Workers.

–Wilma Vaught, a brigadier general. He is one of the most decorated women in U.S. military history, breaking gender barriers as she has risen through the ranks. When Vaught retired in 1985, she was one of only seven female generals in the Armed Forces.

–Raúl Yzaguirre, a civil rights advocate. Yzaguirre was president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza for 30 years. He served as U.S. ambassador to the Dominican Republic under Obama.

The award is the highest United States’ civilian honour.

The honour, awarded to those who have made “exemplary contributions” to the United States, global peace or other endeavours, will be given July 7.

“These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” the White House said in a statement Friday.

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