The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States.
Congratulations to Bob Dylan.
The list of 13
Juliette Gordon Low
John Paul Stevens
Below is brief background on some of those who may be less familiar to the international members of ER. In the case of several people, I have provided background beyond what is in the Official White House Release. Hard as it may be to believe because of his fame, Bob Dylan is only one of a number of extraordinary people in this group. Knowing details about them is an indication of what a great honor it is for Bob Dylan to be among those receiving this award. Dylan, without question, recognized the other 12 who are included.
The all time most winning coach in NCAA basketball (38 years at the University of Tennessee). Summitt was recently diagnosed with early onset dementia. 8 NCAA titles.
John Paul Stevens
3rd longest serving Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court (1975-2010)
Left a lasting imprint on cases involving civil rights, the death penalty, the First Amendment, administrative law,
and the separation of powers.
Juliette Gordon Low
Founded the Girl Scouts of America in 1912. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Girl Scouts which is the U.S. largest educational institution for girls. It has had over 50 million members.
A lifetime champion of civil rights, workers rights and womens rights. With Cesar Chavez she founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962 which eventually became the United Farm Workers of America. She was influential in securing the passage of California's Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 and disability insurance for California farm workers.
(deceased, Jan. 2, 2012)
Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. Refusing an order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, Hirabayashi turned himself in to the F.B.I. to assert his belief that the order was racially discriminatory. He was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court of violating the exclusion order and curfew. Hirabayashi fought his conviction all the way to the Supreme Court, which upheld his conviction (Hirabayashi v. The United States). Hirabayashi spent a year in Federal prison. After WWII, Hirobayashi received a Ph.D. and spent his life as a professor of sociology at the University of Alberta in Canada. In 1987, Hirabayashi's conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Former astronaut and U.S. Senator.
He was the 3rd American in space and the first to orbit the earth.
The 9th President of Israel. Along with Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Yitzak Rabin, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his participation in talks that led to the Oslo Accords.
Professor of Literature at Princeton University, Toni Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, the first African American woman to do so. Considered by many the most important novelist in the United States.
Physician, epidemiologist and champion of public health issues, Dr. Foege helped to lead the campaign which eradicated smallpox in the 1970s. He went on to be head of the Centers For Disease Control and now shapes global health issues for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The 64th U.S. Secretary of State (1997-2001) and the first woman to be Secretary of State. A constant advocate for peace, democracy and human rights. Albright comes from a family of Holocaust survivors.
Served as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Justice from 1960 to 1967 and participated in some of the most significant events in the 1960s civil rights movement. Assisted James Meredith in entering the then-segregated University of Mississippi. Prosecuted and convicted the murderer of civil rights worker Viola Liuzzo in front of an all-white jury in Alabama. Personally confronted and calmed an angry mob after the murder of Medgar Evers. Prosecuted the Federal case for civil rights violations against those accused of lynching Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Michael Schwerner. The 3 were stopped on a country road outside of Philadelphia, Mississippi where they were tortured and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan. Doar contributed to the drafting of the Civil Rights Act of 1965 which was signed into law by President Johnson. Doar is currently an attorney in New York City.
(deceased, July 13, 2000)
A Polish resistance fighter who acted as the liason with the outside world for the Polish government in exile during World War II. Karski was twice smuggled into the Warsaw ghetto by resistance fighters so that he could serve as a first person witness to the destruction of the Jews who lived in the ghetto. As an emissary he met with Anthony Eden, then British Foreign Secretary. Karski made several trips to the United States and met twice with President Franklin Roosevelt to plead the case against Jewish extermination in Poland. He also met with Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, who said of the meeting "I did not say that he was lying. I said that I could not believe him. There is a difference." Over 400,000 Jews were interred in the 1.3 square miles that comprised the Warsaw ghetto, where death from starvation and disease reached epidemic proportions. Including deaths from disease, the deaths that resulted from the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and the 254,000 residents of the Warsaw Ghetto who were shipped for extermination to the Treblinka death camp in summer 1942, estimates of the number of those who died from the Warsaw Ghetto number at least 300,000 people. Karski's agonized recounting of his visit to the Warsaw Ghetto and his numerous audiences with unbelieving world leaders he petitioned for help comprise some of the most moving documentary footage in the film Shoah and his testimony is included in the documents in the U.S. Holocaust Museum. After the war, Karski entered the United States where he received a Ph.D. at Georgetown University. Karski became a U.S. citizen and remained on the faculty at Georgetown for 40 years. Karski made himself available to speak to the public at the U.S. Holocaust Museum a number of times. Karski's wife, the dancer and choreographer Pola Nerinska, a Polish Jew whose family was killed in the Holocaust, committed suicide in 1992. Professor Karski died in Washington D.C. in 2000.