President Bush has announced the recipients of this year's Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award the United States offers. Among this year's recipients are Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Cuban human rights advocate Oscar Elias Biscet.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the White House said Biscet is a champion in the fight against tyranny and oppression who continues to fight for a free Cuba despite his persecution and imprisonment.
The statement credited President Sirleaf with using perseverance and personal courage to help heal a country torn apart by conflict.
Harper Lee, author of "To Kill a Mockingbird" was included for helping focus America's attention on the struggle of black citizens to achieve equality.
The Medal of Freedom may be awarded by the president to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, cultural or other significant endeavors.
Civil rights activist Benjamin Hooks will also be recognized, along with economist Gary Becker and scientist Francis Collins who led the team that mapped human DNA.
Brian Lamb, who founded a public affairs cable television network (CSPAN), and former U.S. Representative Henry Hyde will receive the award along with the others at a White House ceremony on November 5.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.