Biden to award 17 Presidential Medals of Freedom, including to Steve Jobs, John McCain, Simone Biles, Gabriel Giffords, and Denzel Washington

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Joe Biden and Gabrielle Giffords
Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and President Joe Biden last year.Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images
  • Biden will award the nation's highest civilian honor to the likes of Steve Jobs and John McCain.

  • He will present 17 Presidential Medals of Freedom to both living and deceased luminaries next week.

  • Among the other notable names are: Olympian Simone Biles, actor Denzel Washington, and civil rights icon Diane Nash.

The White House announced that President Joe Biden will award 17 Medals of Freedom next week, among the notable names are Olympian Simone Biles, Oscar-winner Denzel Washington, and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

This will be Biden's first time awarding the nation's highest civilian honor.

Three of the medals will be awarded posthumously, including to Sen. John McCain and Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.

McCain and Biden were close friends dating back to McCain's time as a military liaison to the Senate in the 1970s. The Republican famously refused to endorse Trump in 2016 and later dealt a decisive blow to Trump's efforts to repeal Obamacare. Trump continued to ridicule McCain even after his death. Cindy McCain, the late-senator's wife, endorsed Biden during the 2020 election. In 2021, Biden named her to an ambassador-level post at the U.N. Agencies for Food and Agriculture in Rome.

One other Trump critic is on the list. Khizr Khan received national attention for his 2016 Democratic National Convention speech blasting Trump for pushing anti-Muslim rhetoric. Khan's son, Capt. Humayun Khan, was killed in action in Iraq. Trump spent days attacking Khan after the speech, leading Republicans to bemoan his barbs against a Gold Star family.

Seven presidents have received the medal: Presidents Ronald Reagan, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush all received the honor in their respective lifetimes. While LBJ and JFK received it posthumously. Biden himself is a past Medal of Freedom recipient. President Barack Obama awarded him the medal with distinction, an added element to the honor, in 2017 just before Trump took office.

Obama awarded 123 medals over his two terms, the most in history. Trump bestowed 24 medals, most of which went to athletes like golf phenom Tiger Woods, basketball legend Jerry West, and even Babe Ruth. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who has won the most Super Bowls of any coach, turned down a Trump Medal of Freedom after the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

Here is the full list of Biden's first class of Medal of Freedom recipients:

  • Olympian gymnast Simone Biles

  • Sister Simone Campbell

  • Former University of Texas at Brownsville President Dr. Julieta García

  • Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

  • Former Alabama state Rep. and civil rights icon Fred Gray

  • Apple CEO Steve Jobs

  • Former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America Alexander Karloutsos

  • Gold Star father and activist Khizr Khan

  • Nurse Sandra Lindsay

  • Former Senator John McCain

  • Civil rights leader Diane Nash

  • Olympian and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe

  • Former Senator Alan Simpson

  • Former AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (Trumka's medal will be presented posthumously.)

  • Ret. Brig. Gen. Wilma Vaught

  • Actor Denzel Washington

  • Former National Council of La Raza CEO Raúl Yzaguirre

Read the original article on Business Insider