President Biden Honors 19 Americans with Presidential Medal of Freedom

Jimmy Williams

President Joe Biden on Friday honored 19 remarkable Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the nation.

The recipients varied from influential politicians like Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Jim Clyburn to dedicated activists such as Opal Lee and Judy Shephard, along with notable figures like Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky and Oscar-winning actress Michelle Yeoh.

In an event held at the White House’s East Room, President Biden expressed his enthusiasm for the occasion, stating, “Today, we have the privilege to recognize 19 incredible individuals whose relentless determination, creativity, and optimism have inspired hope for a better future.”

Reflecting on Nancy Pelosi’s legacy, Biden praised her for her legislative accomplishments and leadership, particularly her courageous actions during the Capitol attack on January 6, 2021, saying, “Nancy stood in the breach defending democracy… She will be remembered as the greatest speaker of the House of Representatives in history.”

Speaking about Rep. Jim Clyburn, Biden acknowledged his pivotal role in supporting his 2020 presidential campaign, affirming, “We owe a debt of gratitude to people like Jim Clyburn, who have contributed to making our nation great.”

In a light-hearted moment, President Biden joked about Olympic swimmer Katie Ledecky’s age, saying, “Don’t let age get in your way, you know what I mean? Age is just a number, kid.”

Praising Michelle Yeoh for her groundbreaking achievements in the film industry, Biden emphasized her role in breaking stereotypes and advancing American culture.

Biden recalled working with activists like Lee, the “grandmother” of the movement that helped make Juneteenth the first new federal holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. day.

Biden commended Lee’s dedication to making history and preserving it, remarking, “We’re in a better nation because of you, Opal. Thank you.”

Addressing Judy Shephard, Biden honored her for her relentless advocacy following the tragic death of her son Matthew, stating, “Your unwavering commitment serves as a reminder that we must never tolerate hate in any form.”

The event also saw posthumous awards presented to individuals like Medgar Wiley Evers, James Francis Thorpe, and Frank R. Lautenberg, recognizing their significant contributions to society.

After acknowledging each recipient, President Biden remarked, “It’s truly a source of pride to be an American,” encapsulating the sentiment of the ceremony.

In conclusion, the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony celebrated the achievements and contributions of individuals from diverse backgrounds, highlighting their impact on American society and inspiring hope for a brighter future.

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