Politics

Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, other Biden allies awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

President Biden honored 19 individuals with the United States’ highest civilian award on Friday, many of whom are Democratic allies.

The White House announced the roster for the annual Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony, with notable recipients including former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Vice-President Al Gore, and former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, who gave Biden a critical endorsement in the 2020 primary, also received the medal.

‘The Presidential Medal of Freedom, our nation’s highest civilian award — 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,’ Biden said of the medal in a video promoting the latest recipients.

Civil rights leaders are well-represented among the recipients, including: LGBTQ activist Judy Shepard, Juneteenth recognition advocate Opal Lee, lawyer Clarence Jones, and Mississippi civil rights leader Medgar Evers. 

United Farm Workers president Teresa Romero received the award — as well as Catholic priest Fr. Greg Boyle, an anti-gang ministry organizer.

Other recipients include long-time talk-show host Phil Donahue, Olympian Katie Ledecky, Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, astronomer Jane Rigby, and former NASA Johnson Space Center director Ellen Ochoa.

The first American Indian Olympic gold medalist, Jim Thorpe, received a posthumous award — as did the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey.

The only Republican lawmaker recognized is former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, who served in the cabinets of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy. It replaced the Medal of Freedom established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945, which honored individuals who rendered significant aid to the U.S. in World War II.

It is the highest civilian award in the nation and is intended to recognize ‘any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.’

Biden himself received the medal from then-President Barack Obama while serving as his vice president on Jan. 12, 2017.

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