Olympic gymnast Simone Biles arrives on the red carpet at the 38th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Barclays Center in New York City on September 12. She'll be among the first group of people to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Joe Biden next week. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
July 1 (UPI) -- Olympians Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and actor Denzel Washington are among the first slate of recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom handed out by President Joe Biden, the White House announced Friday.
Biden will present the medals, the nation's highest civilian honor, to the recipients Thursday at the White House.
President John F. Kennedy established the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1963, honoring civilians who have made contributions to benefit the security of the United States or national interests, world peace or other cultural endeavors.
The White House said Biden will present the award to athletes Biles, the most decorated American gymnast in history and Rapinoe, of the National Women's Soccer League and equal rights activist; Sister Simone Campbell, a social justice advocate; educator Julieta García; Giffords, who represented Arizona in the House and is an advocate against gun violence; Fred Gray, lawyer and civil rights activist; Father Alexander Karloutsos, former vicar general of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; Khizr Khan, a Gold Star father and religious freedom advocate; Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic; Diane Nash, founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee; former Sen. Alan Simpson; Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught, one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military; Washington, Academy Award winner and spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America; and Raúl Yzaguirre, former ambassador to the Dominican Republic.
Posthumous awards will also go to Apple founder Steve Jobs, former Sen. John McCain and Richard Trumka, former president of the AFL-CIO.
Biden, himself, is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Former President Barack Obama presented the award to his vice president in the waning days of their last term in office.
President Joe Biden (R) greets his grandson Beau (C), the son of Hunter Biden, and granddaughter Maisy Biden after returning to the White House on Thursday. Biden returned to Washington after attending summits in Germany and Spain. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo