News / USA

Obama Awards Presidential Medals of Freedom

President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to astronaut John Glenn in the East Room of the White Housem May 29, 2012 (AP)
President Barack Obama awards the Medal of Freedom to astronaut John Glenn in the East Room of the White Housem May 29, 2012 (AP)
TEXT SIZE - +
WHITE HOUSE - President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded the nation's highest civilian honor - the Presidential Medal of Freedom - to 13 individuals, including a former U.S. astronaut, an American music legend, and the first woman to serve as Secretary of State.  

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to those who have made "especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

Bob Dylan was recognized as one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century, John Glenn was cited for a long career that included being the first American to orbit the Earth and Madeleine Albright was honored for being the first woman to serve as Secretary of State.

"Through her consummate diplomacy and steadfast democratic ideals, Secretary Albright advanced peace in the Middle East, nuclear arms control, justice in the Balkans and human rights around the world, "a White House aide, read the Albright citation.

Obama Awards Presidential Medals of Freedomi
|| 0:00:00
X
Kent Klein
May 30, 2012
President Barack Obama on Tuesday awarded the nation's highest civilian honor - the Presidential Medal of Freedom - to 13 individuals, including a former U.S. astronaut, an American music legend, and the first woman to serve as Secretary of State. Kent Klein reports from the White House.

Honored posthumously was Jan Karski, the former Polish underground army officer who provided eyewitness accounts of the Holocaust during World War II.  Gordon Hirabayashi was honored for challenging the U.S. government's forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during the war.

President Obama said all of the honorees were talented and driven, and that they changed society.

"What sets these men and women apart is the incredible impact they have had on so many people - not in short blinding bursts, but steadily, over the course of a lifetime," said President Obama. "Together, the honorees on this stage and the ones who could not be here, have moved us with their words.  They have inspired us with their actions; they have enriched our lives and they have changed our lives for the better."

Other recipients included:  William Foege, a physician and epidemiologist who helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox; and Delores Huerta, a civil rights, labor and women's advocate who co-founded the United Farm Workers of America.

Also honored were:  U.S. former Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison, college basketball coach Pat Summitt and, posthumously, Juliette Gordon Low who founded the Girl Scouts of the United States of America.

John Doar, a former Department of Justice official, received the Medal of Freedom for his work protecting and enforcing civil rights during the 1960s.  President Obama said that had it not been for Doar's work, he might not be in the White House today.

"He was the face of the Justice Department in the South," said Obama. "He was proof that the federal government was listening.  And over the years, John escorted James Meredith to the University of Mississippi.  He walked alongside the Selma to Montgomery march [by African Americans].  He laid the groundwork for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting rights Act of 1965."

Israeli President Shimon Peres could not be present to receive his medal.  President Obama said he has invited Mr. Peres to have dinner at the White House next month and would present him with his medal at that time.

At the end of the ceremony, Mr. Obama shared his personal thoughts, describing how some of the honorees had affected his life.

"I remember reading [the Morrison novel] "Song of Solomon" when I was a kid, and not just trying to figure out how to write, but also how to be and how to think," said President Obama. "And I remember in college listening to Bob Dylan and my world opening up because he captured something about this country that was so vital.  And I think about Dolores Huerta - reading about her when I was starting off as a [community] organizer."

President Obama said the Medal of Freedom recipients had touched his life in some way and that all of them are heroes to him personally.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Kenny47 from: Connecticut
June 01, 2012 5:46 PM
More politically inspired choices by the Obamanation, from the socialist Delores Huerta to John Glenn who sold his soul to the Democrat Party by defending their campaign finance scandals in return for another ride on the space shuttle to the witless incompetent Madeleine Halfbright who was used by the North Koreans. Meanwhile unemployment goes up to 8.2% (inreal number much higher) and May produced only 67,000 new jobs. How pathetic and incompetent this president is.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid