President Biden on Thursday will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, to 17 people in a wide variety of endeavors, including gymnast Simone Biles, Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington and, posthumously, inventor Steve Jobs and former senator John McCain.
Biden’s list of recipients, his first as president, include stalwarts of politics, sports, entertainment, religion, civil rights, labor and the military.
“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These seventeen Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation — hard work, perseverance, and faith,” the White House said in a statement last week.
The honorees range from Biles, 25, the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history who has advocated for sexual assault victims, to former senator Alan Simpson (R-Wyo.), 90, the sharp-tongued politician and governor’s son who served 18 years in the Senate and was outspoken on the issue of fiscal responsibility.
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