The medal, the nation's highest civilian honor, may be awarded by the president "to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution" to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors, the White House said.
The recipients are Dr. Benjamin Carson Sr., who the White House said has worked throughout his career to improve the lives of those suffering from neurological disorders; Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has worked on treatment of HIV/AIDS; and the late Tom Lantos, who was the only Holocaust survivor to serve in the Congress.
Also to be honored are U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Peter Pace, Donna Edna Shalala, who served for eight years as U.S. secretary of health and human services under President Bill Clinton; and U.S. Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman, who the White House said "has devoted his life to promoting, enforcing, and defending the rule of law."
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