Washington -- On Thursday, President Biden presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the Presidential Medal of Freedom) to 16 Americans, including Simone Biles, a decorated Olympic gymnast, Megan Rapinoe, and Gabrielle Giffords, a former Congresswoman. Posthumously, the award was given to Sen. John McCain (the late senator) and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (the former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords).
Denzel Washington, the actor who was also to be honored, could not attend Thursday's ceremony. However, Mr. Biden stated that he would present the award to him at a later date.
The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the country, is awarded to individuals who have made significant contributions to U.S. peace and world order or to "significant societal or public endeavors."
Thursday's Fourth of July week reminded us of what brought us together so long ago. It still binds and binds, at our best," said Mr. Biden. We the people are doing everything we can to make America's cause of freedom shine like the sun, to brighten the future of the planet. That is what we strive for. This is the heart of our nation. This is who we are as Americans. That's what we see. An extraordinary, extraordinary group of Americans are here, and I have the honor of recognising them with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It's our highest civilian award.
Each recipient was individually recognized by the president, who shared their contributions to the country as well as the world. Biles was the first to be acknowledged.
The president stated that "when we see her compete we see unmatched and unmatched power, determination, grace, and daring." She is a trailblazer and role model. When she stands on the podium, she shows us what she is: absolute courage to use personal pain to make a difference, to speak up for others who are not able to. She now has 32 medals. How are you going to make room for more? -- 32 Olympic and World Championship medals.
He also spoke highly of McCain, who he worked with in the Senate. Biden said that he first met McCain in his time as a military aide to the Senate and encouraged him to run for office. Cindy McCain, McCain's widow accepted the award.
"We used to argue like a maniac on the Senate floor. As you can recall, we would then go down to have lunch together afterward. "We ran against one another, which I did not like, on tickets to the highest office in this country. He was the candidate for president and I was vice president candidate. John was a man I admired from the beginning. I never said anything negative about John in my life because I was aware of his honor, courage and commitment.
In attendance on Thursday were Vice President Kamala Harris, Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, and other government officials such as GOP Rep. Liz Cheney.
The award was established in 1960 by President John F. Kennedy. The award was presented to Mr. Biden by former President Barack Obama, who received it in 2017.
Here's the complete list of honorees.
Biles is one of the greatest gymnasts ever. She has worked tirelessly for mental safety and the mental health of athletes as well as the victims of sexual abuse. Last year, she testified before Congress about Larry Nassar who was convicted of sexually assaulting hundreds more women and girls by former USA Gymnastics doctors.
Sister Simone Campbell
Campbell is a Sister of Social Service member and advocates for economic justice and immigration reform.
Garcia was the former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville. Gabrielle Giffords
Giffords, a former member in Congress, was assassinated in 2011. She has since dedicated her life towards gun violence prevention.
Gray is a civil rights lawyer who represented Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr.
Jobs, who was a co-founder and pioneer of global communication, computing, and was also the cause of Apple's demise, died in 2011.
Father Alexander Karloutsos
Karloutsos was previously the Vicar General of The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and advised many U.S. presidents.
Khan was the Gold Star father who criticised Trump during a speech at 2016 Democratic convention.
Lindsay, a nurse from New York, was on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
McCain, a naval aviator, was held prisoner of war in Vietnam for many years. He went on to become a senator and congressman for decades. In 2008, he was elected the Republican Party's presidential candidate. He died in 2018. Diane Nash
Nash organized key civil rights campaigns during segregation.
Rapinoe was an Olympic gold medalist as well as a World Cup champion as a player on the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team. She has advocated for gender equality and LBGTQ+ rights.
Simpson served as a U.S. Senator from Wyoming for 18 Years.
Trumka was the leader of the AFL-CIO for over a decade, before he passed away last year.
According to the White House, Brigadier General Wilma Viaught broke down barriers for women in military service and was one of seven female generals in Armed Forces when her retirement in 1985.
Yzaguirre, a civil rights advocate, was the U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under former President Barack Obama.