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Andrea Jaxson
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President Biden awards Medal of Freedom to Simone Biles, Denzel Washington, John McCain and 14 others

On Thursday, President Joe Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 recipients, calling them an “extraordinary group of Americans.” The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the country’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace or other significant societal, public or private endeavors. Gold medal-winning gymnast Simone Biles, two-time Oscar winner Denzel Washington and the late war hero and Sen. John McCain were among the 17 recipients.

Biles, the youngest person to receive the Medal of Freedom, is the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and world championship medals.

Washington, one of the most decorated actors in Hollywood, has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also served as National Spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years. Washington was unable to attend Thursday’s ceremony because of a positive Covid test, a White House official said. Biden said he would be honored at a later date.

Sen. John McCain, who died in 2018, was the Republican nominee for president in 2008.  He served with Biden in the Senate and was awarded a Purple Heart with one gold star for his service in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. John McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, accepted the medal on his behalf.

Biden also presented Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe with the medal, speaking of her soccer skills and fight for equal pay.

Others receiving the Medal of Freedom were:

*Sister Simone Campbell
*Dr. Julieta García
*Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
*Former Alabama Legislator Fred Gray
*Apple co-founder Steve Jobs (posthumous)
*Father Alexander Karloutsos
*Khizr Khan
*Sandra Lindsay
*Diane Nash
*Alan Simpson
*Richard Trumka (posthumous)
*Wilma Vaught
*Raúl Yzaguirre

Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

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