Diverse achievements recognized in presidential medal of freedom honorees.

U.S. President Joe Biden has awarded the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom to 19 individuals, highlighting their remarkable contributions across various fields.

Among the recipients are renowned figures such as:

  • Team USA swimmer Katie Ledecky, a winner of seven Olympic gold medals.
  • Civil rights leader Medgar Evers, who played a pivotal role in the Mississippi civil rights struggle.
  • Television host Phil Donahue, a pioneer in the tabloid talk show genre.

During the awards ceremony at the White House, President Biden encouraged Ledecky to continue pursuing more medals, emphasizing that “age is just a number.”

The honoree list also pays tribute to trailblazers who achieved significant “firsts” in their respective fields, including:

  • Actress Michelle Yeoh, the first Asian to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.
  • Ellen Ochoa, the first Hispanic woman in space.
  • Jim Thorpe, the first Native American to win an Olympic gold medal in 1912, known for his versatility in athletics.

President Biden also recognized key political allies within the Democratic Party, such as Representative Jim Clyburn and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for their instrumental roles in advancing his legislative agenda.

Several former presidential candidates were also honored, including Elizabeth Dole, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Michael Bloomberg. Biden praised Gore for accepting the outcome of the disputed 2000 presidential election for the sake of unity and trust in institutions, subtly contrasting it with the actions of former President Donald Trump.

Biden’s remarks acknowledging Gore and Kerry drew laughter from the audience, with the president expressing his belief that both men deserved recognition for their contributions.

The awards ceremony underscored the diverse achievements and significant impacts made by each honoree in their respective fields, reflecting a broad spectrum of talent and dedication to public service.