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Bob Dylan, Pat Summitt among 2012 Medal of Freedom recipients

April 26, 2012|By Kathleen Hennessey

WASHINGTON -- The White House has announced this year’s recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. The list of 13 honorees includes musician Bob Dylan, writer Toni Morrison, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Shimon Peres.

“These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our nation,” President Obama said in a statement. “They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place.  I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”

The awards will be presented at White House ceremony later his spring. Here’s the full list, with biographies provided by the White House:

  • Madeleine Albright, the first woman to lead the State Department, served under President Clinton.
  • John Doar, the assistant attorney general in charge of civil rights cases during the 1960s. Doer obtained convictions in several high-profile cases and lead the effort to enforcement the Voting Rights act of 1965.
  • Bob Dylan, songwriter, poet and musician. Dylan has won almost every other major award, including a Commandeur dans l'Ordre des Art et des Lettres, a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation and the 2009 National Medal of Arts.
  • William Foege, physician and epidemiologist. Foege helped lead the effort to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.
  • John Glenn, a former Democratic senator from Ohio, was the third American in space and the first to orbit the Earth. Glenn returned to space in 1998 at age 77.
  • Gordon Hirabayashi, who mounted a legal challenge the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Hirabayashi lost his case and served time in prison. His conviction was overturned in 1987. Hirabayashi died in January.
  • Dolores Huerta, a civil rights, labor and women’s advocate, is a co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, which later became United Farm Workers of America.
  • Jan Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world. Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.
  • Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts, now the largest education organization for girls with more than 50 million members. The Girl Scouts is celebrating its 100 anniversary. Low died in 1927.
  • Toni Morrison, author of Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Beloved, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.  In 1993, Morrison was the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize.
  • Shimon Peres, the ninth president of Israel. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as foreign minister during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords.
  • John Paul Stevens retired from the Supreme Court in 2010. Stevens was nominated to the court by President Ford. He was a veteran of World War II, in which he served as a naval intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star.
  • Pat Summitt, who has more wins than any men’s or women’s coach in NCAA history, stepped down from her post at the University of Tennessee earlier this month. Summitt, who was diagnosed last year with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, has been an advocate for Alzheimer's research. Summitt led the Lady Vols to eight NCAA national basketball championships, second only to John Wooden’s 10 titles as the men’s coach at UCLA.

Original source: Bob Dylan, Pat Summitt among 2012 Medal of Freedom recipients

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