This month President Joe Biden will be presenting 17 Americans with the Presidential Medal of Freedom – the highest civilian honour to be awarded in the United States.

Among the list are actors, sports figures, politicians, activists, and military personnel.  The list includes both living and posthumous presentations. 

Leading the list of honourees is Olympic Gold Medal gymnast Simone Biles.

A Medal of Freedom recipient himself, Biden said the new recipients, “have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come.”

According to the White House the Medal of Freedom is given to “people 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.”

Simone Biles is the most decorated gymnast in United States history with 32 Olympic and World Championship medals.

Other Medal of Freedom winners are:
New York City nurse Sandra Lindsay
former U.S. Congressman Bob McCain
Award winning actor Denzel Washington
Sister Simone Campbell
former University of Texas at Brownsville president Julieta Garcia – the first Latina to be a college president
former U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Civil Rights activist and for member of the Alabama legislature Fred Gray – a posthumous award, Gray was the first man of colour to be a member of the Alabama Legislature after Reconstruction
Apple founder Steve Jobs – a posthumous award
assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America Father Alexander Karloutsos
Gold Star father and immigrant Khirz Khan
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee founder Diane Nash
Olympic Gold Medalist and two time Women’s World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe.  She is also an advocate for equal rights
Retired U.S. Senator and advocate Alan Simpson
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka – a posthumous award
retired Brigadier general Wilma Vaught
Civil rights advocate and former U.S. Ambassador Raul Yzaguirre

feature photo credit: 1894 US Presidential Seal.jpg