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Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients 2013

President Obama Names Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients

August 13, 2013
President Obama awards former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House in May 2012. (AP Images)

President Obama awards former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the East Room of the White House in May 2012.

Washington — A former U.S. president, a celebrated Latin jazz musician and a world-famous media mogul and philanthropist are among the 16 Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients announced recently by President Obama.

“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” Obama said in a White House news release.

“This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude,” the president said.

Recipients in 2013 include former President Bill Clinton, Cuban-born jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and broadcast journalist and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey.

The medal is the United States’ highest civilian honor, presented to individuals 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. The awards will be presented at the White House later in 2013.

The year 2013 also marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the award by President John F. Kennedy, as well as the first ceremony bestowing the honor on 31 recipients. Since then, more than 500 individuals have been honored with the medal.

The following individuals will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom:

• Ernie Banks — One of the greatest baseball players of all time, he hit more than 500 home runs in his career and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977.

• Ben Bradlee — As executive editor of the Washington Post, he oversaw coverage of the Watergate scandal and successfully challenged the U.S. government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers.

• Bill Clinton — After serving as the 42nd president of the United States, he established the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote wellness and protect the environment and formed a fund with President George W. Bush in 2010 to help Haiti.

• Daniel Inouye (posthumous) — A decorated World War II veteran, Senator Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment it became a state.

• Daniel Kahneman — This pioneering scholar of psychology escaped Nazi-occupied France in World War II and later applied cognitive psychology to economic analysis, laying the foundation for a new field of research and earning the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002.

• Richard Lugar — Former Senator Lugar, who represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate for more than 30 years, is best known for his bipartisan leadership and decadeslong commitment to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.

• Loretta Lynn — This country music legend, raised in rural Kentucky, emerged as one of the first successful female country music vocalists in the early 1960s, breaking barriers in an industry long dominated by men.

• Mario Molina — A visionary chemist and environmental scientist born in Mexico, he earned the Nobel Prize in chemistry for discovering how chlorofluorocarbons deplete the ozone layer.

• Sally Ride (posthumous)— The first American female astronaut to travel to space, she was a role model to generations of young women, advocating science education, racial and gender equality, and aspirations without limitation.

• Bayard Rustin (posthumous) — This unyielding activist for civil rights, dignity and equality served as an adviser to Martin Luther King Jr. and organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

• Arturo Sandoval — Born outside Havana, this trumpeter, pianist and composer became a protégé of jazz legend Dizzy Gillespie and is widely considered one of the greatest living jazz artists.

• Dean Smith — Head coach of the University of North Carolina basketball team for 36 years, he retired as the winningest men’s college basketball coach in history, with 96 percent of his players graduating from college.

• Gloria Steinem — A renowned writer and activist for women’s equality and civil rights, she was a leader in the women’s liberation movement and co-founded Ms. magazine.

• Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian — This distinguished minister, author and organizer was a leader in the civil rights movement and a friend of Martin Luther King Jr.

• Patricia Wald — A pioneering woman in the field of law, she was one of the most respected appellate judges of her generation and later served on the International Criminal Tribunal in The Hague.

• Oprah Winfrey — Best known for creating The Oprah Winfrey Show, which became the highest-rated television talk show in America for 25 years, she has long been active in philanthropic causes and expanding opportunities for young women.

More about the recipients is available on the White House website.