President George W. Bush today announced the recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civil award. Established by Executive Order 11085 in 1963, the Medal may be awarded by the President “to any person who has made an especially meritorious contribution to (1) the security or national interests of the United States, or (2) world peace, or (3) cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” President Bush will honor these recipients at a White House ceremony on Friday, December 15, 2006.
Ruth Johnson Colvin has dedicated her life to helping the less fortunate gain the reading and language skills they need to succeed. She has worked to bring communities together to tear down the barriers of illiteracy and traveled the globe to promote the importance of literacy.
Norman C. Francis has served as President of Xavier University of Louisiana for nearly 40 years, demonstrating a steadfast dedication to education, equality, and service to others. As Chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, he has played a vital role in helping the people of the Gulf Coast rebuild their lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Paul Johnson is a brilliant historian and journalist whose powerful writings have captivated and educated people around the world. A citizen of the United Kingdom, he holds America in special regard, calling the creation of our Nation “the greatest of all human adventures.”
Riley “B.B.” King is one of the greatest blues singers and guitarists of all time. For more than half a century, the “King of the Blues” and his guitar “Lucille” have thrilled audiences, influenced generations of guitarists, and helped give the blues its special place in the American musical tradition.
Joshua Lederberg was awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in bacterial genetics and has devoted his life to the advancement of human knowledge. He has also helped develop advanced computer technology, worked with NASA in the search for life on Mars, and served as a distinguished scientific advisor to our Nation’s policymakers.
David McCullough is one of our Nation’s most distinguished and honored historians. His books have earned him the respect of general audiences and scholars alike, and he is one of our foremost experts on the American Presidency.
Norman Y. Mineta has served his fellow Americans as a mayor, congressman, and Cabinet Secretary under two Presidents. The longest-serving Secretary of Transportation, he worked to improve the security of our transportation system and restore our confidence in air travel after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
John “Buck” O’Neil represented excellence and determination both on and off the baseball field. He was a talented player and manager in the Negro Leagues, became Major League Baseball’s first African-American coach, and was a co-founder of and inspiration for the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, Missouri.
William Safire has distinguished himself as one of our country’s most talented writers and commentators. Using the power of prose, he has educated our citizenry, polished our language, and elevated debate on issues of the day.
Natan Sharansky was imprisoned in the gulag by the Soviet regime for his work to advance religious liberty and human rights. He remained steadfast in his defiance of tyranny and has continued to champion the principles that all people deserve to live iiiiiin freedom and that the advance of liberty is critical to peace and security around the world.