United States

Biden gives Katie Ledecky, Michelle Yeoh the Medal of Freedom


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Biden gives Katie Ledecky, Michelle Yeoh the Medal of Freedom

AWARDEE. US President Joe Biden presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actor Michelle Yeoh during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, USA, May 3, 2024.

Evelyn Hockstein/REUTERS

Biden also celebrates some key political allies in the Democratic Party

WASHINGTON, USA – A winner of seven Olympic gold medals, a leader of the Mississippi civil rights struggle and a pioneer of television’s tabloid talk show genre are part of this year’s class of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients.

US President Joe Biden extended the highest US civilian award to 19 people, including Team USA swimmer Katie Ledecky, the assassinated civil rights leader Medgar Evers, and television host Phil Donahue.

“Don’t let age get in your way,” Biden, the oldest US president at 81, said to Ledecky, 27, as he encouraged her to seek more medals during an awards ceremony at the White House on Friday. “Katie, age is just a number, kid.”

The honoree list plays special homage to “firsts” in their field, including the Everything Everywhere All at Once actress Michelle Yeoh, who was the first Asian to win the Academy Award for Best Actress; Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space; and Jim Thorpe, the versatile athlete who became the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal in 1912.

Biden also celebrated some key political allies in the Democratic Party, from Representative Jim Clyburn, who rescued his 2020 presidential primary bid with an endorsement in South Carolina, to Nancy Pelosi, who shepherded his legislative agenda through Congress as House of Representatives speaker until last year.

Also included are several one-time presidential candidates, former senator Elizabeth Dole, former vice president Al Gore, one-time secretary of state John Kerry and previous New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“After winning the popular vote, he accepted the outcome of a disputed presidential election for the sake of unity and trust in our institutions,” Biden said of Gore’s concession to George W. Bush in the 2000 election, a jab at ex-President Donald Trump, who has never conceded his 2020 loss to Biden.

“That to me was amazing what you did, Al. I won’t go into that.” The remark drew some laughter.

“In my view, the last two guys should be standing here at this podium,” Biden said of Gore and Kerry.

Bloomberg, a billionaire businessman who strayed from the Republican Party he once called home, may become an important financial backer of the president’s 2024 reelection campaign.

Biden also honored Father Greg Boyle, a Catholic priest who founded the gang intervention program Homeboy Industries; Opal Lee, an activist who pushed for Juneteenth to be a holiday marking the end of slavery in the United States; Senator Frank Lautenberg, a consumer safety advocate; astrophysicist Jane Rigby; United Farm Workers president Teresa Romero; LGBT advocate Judy Shepard; and Clarence B. Jones, who helped draft Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. – Rappler.com

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