Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

 

President Joe Biden awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 17 recipients at the White House on Wednesday, including gymnast Simone Biles, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and soccer champion Megan Rapinoe, as well as posthumous honors to Steve Jobs. Another recipient, Denzel Washington, was to attend, but tested positive for Covid, according to a White House official and the actor’s publicist.

 

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

Washington will receive the award at a later date, Biden said. At the ceremony, the president said that Washington “couldn’t be here but wanted to be.” The White House has testing guidelines in place for those who will be in close contact to the president.
The nation’s highest civilian honors typically are given annually to a group that includes politicians, activists, artists and scientists.

 

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

 

Others who received the honor included Sister Simone Campbell, college president Julieta Garcia, civil rights attorney Fred Gray, Father Alexander Karloutsos, religious freedom advocate and Gold Star father Khizr Khan, Covid first responder Sandra Lindsay, civil rights legend and organizer Diane Nash, Olympic gold medalist Megan Rapinoe, former vice president Alan Simpson, Brigadier General Wilma Vaught and civil rights advocate Raúl Yzaguirre. Also recognized posthumously were Senator John McCain and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

 

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

When the White House announced Medal of Freedom recipients last week, Washington was recognized for winning two Oscars, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes and the Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. The White House also cited his tenure as spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for more than 25 years.

 

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

At the ceremony, Laurene Powell Jobs, Jobs’ widow, accepted the honor, as he was recognized as the co-founder of Apple and for “creating one of the most important companies in history, bringing computing into homes and phones and revolutionizing our way of life.” Jobs died in 2011.One of the most personal moments of the ceremony came when Biden honored McCain, a colleague when they both served together in the Senate.

 

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

“We used to argue like hell on the Senate floor, but then we’d go down and have lunch together afterwards,” Biden said. Even though they ran against each other in 2008, with McCain the Republican nominee for president and Biden the Democratic nominee for vice president, Biden said that “I never stopped admiring John. I never said a negative thing about him in my life, because I knew his honor, his courage and his commitment. That was John McCain.”

 

Joe Biden Awards Medal Of Freedom To 17 Americans; Denzel Washington Misses Ceremony Due To Positive Covid Test Result

McCain’s widow, Cindy McCain, accepted the honor. She is currently serving as U.S. ambassador to United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture.In giving the Medal of Freedom to McCain, along with Simpson, another former Senate colleague, Biden seemed to have a wistfulness for another era of politics, when partisan rivals didn’t make their rancor personal. By contrast, Donald Trump had a heavy emphasis on awarding the Medal of Freedom to conservative supporters and sports figures, most famously when he gave the honor to Rush Limbaugh during his 2020 State of the Union address.

 

 

“John and I traveled the world together, literally, traveled the world together,” Biden said. “We became friends. We agreed on a lot more than we disagreed on. …But the two things we never talked about — we never talked about his imprisonment in the Hanoi Hilton, nor the death of my wife and my daughter. The pain was significantly different, yet somehow we seemed to understand one another. It was a long time ago. We both wanted to make things better for the country we both loved, and that never wavered.”

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