awards Medal of Freedom to 18, including Streep, Wonder
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[November 25, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President
Barack Obama on Monday presented the highest U.S. civilian honor, the
Presidential Medal of Freedom, to 18 artists, politicians, writers,
scholars and activists, including actress Meryl Streep and
singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder.
"Not only have they made the world better, but by following their
example they make us a little bit better every single day. We are
truly grateful to them," the president said in a White House
The group included Ethel Kennedy, widow of the late Senator Robert
Kennedy; NBC journalist Tom Brokaw; and Representative John Dingell,
a Michigan Democrat and the longest-serving member of Congress.
Dingell is retiring at the end of the year.
Others recognized at the ceremony were author Isabel Allende, Native
American activist Suzan Harjo and former U.S. Representative and
federal judge Abner Mikva of Illinois.
Also receiving awards were actress and humanitarian Marlo Thomas,
Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Solow, pioneering black golfer
Charles Sifford and physicist Mildred Dresselhaus.
Posthumous medals were awarded to six people, among them civil
rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.
They were killed in 1964 as they participated in a voter
registration drive in Mississippi.
Other posthumous awards went to choreographer Alvin Ailey and to
Representatives Patsy Mink of Hawaii, a sponsor of Title IX
legislation banning sexual discrimination in higher education, and
Edward Roybal of California, founder of the Congressional Hispanic
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Obama said composer Stephen Sondheim was to have received the medal
but could not attend the ceremony. He will receive it next year, he
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is reserved for individuals who
have made "meritorious contributions" to U.S. security, world peace
or cultural endeavors.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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