President Joe Biden will award the late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs and actor Denzel Washington the nation’s highest civilian honor as part of his first slate of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.
President Joe Biden will award the late Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Jobs and actor Denzel Washington the nation’s highest civilian honor as part of his first slate of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. Jobs and Washington will be honored alongside a pair of politically active female athletes — gymnast Simone Biles and soccer star Megan Rapinoe — as well as Gabrielle Giffords, the Arizona congresswoman who survived a shooting during a constituent event and subsequently founded a nonprofit promoting stronger gun laws.
Biden’s longtime Senate colleague John McCain will also receive the award posthumously alongside Jobs, as will Khizr Khan, the Gold Star father who — with support from the former Arizona senator — rose to national prominence after criticizing former President Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign. Other political friends of Biden receiving the honor include Richard Trumka, the recently deceased leader of the AFL-CIO, and Alan Simpson, the former Republican senator from Wyoming.
Biden also plans to honor Catholic social justice activist Simone Campbell, former University of Texas at Brownville President Julieta García, civil rights attorney Fred Gray, and Alexander Karloutsos, a Greek Orthodox priest who provided counsel to former US presidents. Covid-19 nurse Sandra Lindsay, female military pioneer Wilma Vaught, and former National Council of La Raza President Raul Yzaguirre will also receive the award.
Presidents traditionally name recipients annually, and Biden will bestow the awards at a ceremony on 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. “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.”
President John F. Kennedy established the award to honor those who contributed significantly to American culture or the national interest through public or private actions. Trump’s award winners included athletes like Babe Ruth and Tiger Woods, as well as political allies, including congressmen Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes and talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
As vice president, Biden himself was President Barack Obama’s final Medal of Freedom recipient. Obama awarded a record 123 medals.