The White House announced this year’s honorees for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. Among the list of 17 individuals to receive the honors are actor Denzel Washington and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.
Washington is known as one of the most acclaimed actors of his generation. The instantly recognizable star starred in many classic films over the years. His numerous awards include 10 Academy Award nominations, with two wins for his roles in Glory and Training Day. Additionally, Washington has won two Golden Globes, a Tony Award, and Screen Actor’s Guild Award in his illustrious career.
Simon Biles is a celebrated individual in the world of sports. She is a seven-time Olympic medalist with four gold medals, one silver, and two bronze. Overall, she’s the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history with 32 world-recognized medals in gymnastic championships.
Biles is also an outspoken advocate for issues such as athlete mental health, child foster care, and support of sexual assault victims. Washington has also received many honorary awards for work related to supporting army veterans and working with the Boys & Girls Club of America.
17 people in total will receive the residential Medal of Honor next week. Recipients include posthumous honorees as well as living legends who fight for human rights and social causes.
The late John McCain, with whom President Joe Biden spent time in the senate, will receive the honor after dedicating his life to the fight for freedom. Including spending five years in a Vietnamese prison camp while serving in the U.S. Navy. The Arizona senator lost his life to brain cancer in 2011.
Other honorees include:
Sandra Lindsey: a nurse from New York. She took the very first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination that went into an American arm on live television.
Steve Jobs: co-founder and chief executive of Apple Inc. posthumously receives the honor after passing away in 2011.
Sister Simone Campbell: a member of the Sister of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWRK, a Catholic social justice organization. Moreover, she advocates for economic justice, overhauling the U.S. immigration system, and health care reform.
Julieta Garcia: a former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville. She became the first Latin woman to become a college president. In fact, Time magazine named her one of the nation’s best college presidents.
Gabrielle Giffords: a former congresswoman from Arizona. She founded Giffords, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence. She died after suffering a gunshot wound in the head during a January 2011 constituent event in Tucson.
Fred Gray: one of the first Black members of the Alabama Legislature. Indeed, Gray was a prominent civil rights attorney. Specifically, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr in many legal battles.
The White House released the complete list of honorees to kick off Independence Day weekend. The awards will be presented on July 7th.