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US AIDS Researcher Among Recipients of Presidential Medal of Freedom

A leading HIV/AIDS researcher and a former member of the U.S. Congress who survived a Nazi labor camp are among this year's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor.

U.S. President George Bush issued a statement Wednesday, naming researcher Dr. Anthony Fauci and five other people as recipients of the awards. They will be honored at a White House ceremony on June 19.

The statement says Dr. Fauci dedicated his life to expanding the horizons of human knowledge. It says his efforts to advance understanding and treatment of HIV/AIDS have brought hope and healing to millions around the world.

Also being honored is the late U.S. Congressman Tom Lantos, who died earlier this year. The Hungarian-born Lantos was the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the U.S. Congress. The statement described Lantos as a champion of human rights and someone who devoted himself to securing liberty for oppressed people around the world.

Other honorees include Dr. Benjamin Carson, who Mr. Bush says has worked throughout his career to improve the lives of people suffering from neurological disorders. Dr. Carson is also being credited with groundbreaking contributions to medicine and for what are described as his "inspiring efforts" to help America's youth fulfill their potential.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps General Peter Pace is also being recognized this year. Mr. Bush describes General Pace as one of the nation's most accomplished and respected military officers, saying his selfless service and visionary leadership have helped keep America safe.

Educator Donna Shalala is also on this year's list. Mr. Bush says Shalala has worked tirelessly to ensure that all Americans can enjoy lives of hope, promise and dignity. She served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under President Bill Clinton.

Laurence Silverman is being awarded the medal of freedom for devoting his life to promoting, enforcing and defending the rule of law. Mr. Bush describes Silverman as a stalwart guardian of the Constitution, saying Silverman's work to strengthen U.S. national security institutions has helped make Americans safer.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to recognize notable service in World War II. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy reintroduced it as an honor for distinguished civilian service in peacetime.