President Joe Biden on July 7 awarded the Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including Olympian Simone Biles, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), and New York nurse Sandra Lindsay.
The medal is the highest civilian award.
Biden called those receiving the medals “an extraordinary group of Americans.”
The president selected those honored.
He said Biles displayed “unmatched determination” while competing in the Olympics. Giffords, who was shot during a mass shooting in Tuscon in 2011, has helped bring about gun safety legislation like the bill passed by bipartisan majorities in both congressional chambers and “is one of the most courageous people I have ever known,” the president added. And Lindsay, the first person in the United States to get a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials, “poured her heart into helping patients” and keeping colleagues safe during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.
Sister Simone Campbell, former executive director of NETWORK, a group described as a Catholic social justice organization; Fred Gray, an attorney who represented Rosa Parks; Dr. Julieta Garcia, former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville; Father Alexander Karloutsos, a priest; Khizr Khan, who founded the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center; Diane Nash, who worked with Martin Luther King; Olympic soccer player Megan Rapinoe; former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.); Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, one of the first female generals in the Armed Forces; and civil rights advocate Raul Yzaguirre were among others awarded the medal.
Late AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, and late Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) were awarded medals posthumously.
Biden also chose actor Denzel Washington but the actor recently tested positive for COVID-19, according to a White House official, and did not attend the ceremony. Washington will be honored at a later date, Biden said.
Those awarded did not deliver remarks during the ceremony, which lasted approximately one hour.