Streisand, Spielberg and Berra among Obama’s Medal of Freedom honorees

25 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Barbara Mikulski among luminaries honored at White House.

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama recognized 17 Americans with the nation’s highest civilian award on Tuesday, including the first African-American woman elected to Congress, one of the greatest catchers in baseball history and a “Funny Girl.” Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to filmmaker Steven Spielberg, musicians Gloria and Emilio Estefan, singer James Taylor, composer Stephen Sondheim, violinist Itzhak Perlman and actress Barbra Streisand, who won an Academy award for her performance in the classic film, “Funny Girl.” The sports honorees were Baseball Hall of Famers Willie Mays and Yogi Berra. The medals will be presented in a ceremony at The White House this Tuesday evening, November 24, 2015. “From public servants who helped us meet defining challenges of our time to artists who expanded our imaginations, from leaders who have made our union more flawless to athletes who have inspired millions of fans, these men and women have enriched our lives and helped define our shared experience as Americans”.

Obama called Mikulski, the longest-serving female US senator in history, a “lioness” on capitol hill and praised her for “fighting for the prospects of America’s women and girls”. Lee Hamilton, a former Indiana congressman who was chairman of the Iran-Contra committee and vice-chairman of the 9/11 commission, also received the honor.

Aside from winning 13 World Series rings as a player and a manger, he was also an activist, advocating for civil rights, the LGBT community and education. Bonnie Carroll, founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, was one of several activists presented with the medal along with Billy Frank Jr, a Native American rights activist and environmental conversationist, and Minoru Yasui, who fought against the US government’s interment of Americans of Japanese descent. -William Ruckelshaus, a former chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, who shaped the guiding principles of the agency, including a nationwide ban on the pesticide DDT and an agreement with the automobile industry to require catalytic converters to reduce automobile pollution. White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said at the time that he was not sure that the president had the power to rescind the award, which was issued by George W Bush in 2002. She successfully pushed through legislation that extended the statute of limitations for suing an employer over wage discrimination, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which became the first major bill Obama signed into law.

The top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee, Mikulski also inserted language into the Affordable Care Act that ensured certain preventive care for women would be covered for free. “Senator Barb is inspirational,” said Maryland Sen.

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