As part of his first group of Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, President Joe Biden will award the highest civilian distinction on late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs and actor Denzel Washington.
Jobs and Washington will be recognized alongside two politically engaged female athletes, soccer player Megan Rapinoe and gymnast Simone Biles, as well as Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who founded a nonprofit promoting for stricter gun control after surviving a shooting at a constituent event.
Along with Jobs, John McCain, a longtime friend of Biden’s in the Senate, will also receive the medal posthumously. Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father who gained national notoriety by criticizing the late President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, will also receive it. Along with Alan Simpson, a former Republican senator from Wyoming, Richard Trumka, the recently departed AFL-CIO leader, and other political allies of Biden were also honored.
In addition, Biden wants to recognize civil rights lawyer Fred Gray, Simone Campbell, a Catholic social justice activist, former president of the University of Texas at Brownville Julieta Garca, and Alexander Karloutsos, a Greek Orthodox monk who advised previous US presidents. Sandra Lindsay, a nurse for Covid-19, Wilma Vaught, a pioneering woman in the military, and Raul Yzaguirre, a former leader of the National Council of La Raza, will also receive the honor.
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. 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 award was created by President John F. Kennedy to recognize people who, through their public or private actions, made major contributions to American culture or the greater good. Athletes like Babe Ruth and Tiger Woods received awards from Trump, as well as political allies like Congressmen Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes, and talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
President Barack Obama’s final Medal of Freedom winner was Joe Biden, who served as vice president. Obama bestowed 123 medals, a record.