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Presidential Medal of Freedom Winners for 2012

Photo of Barack Obama leaning over the armchair of Toni Morrison as the two share a laugh

Astronaut John Glenn and poet Toni Morrison lead the pack of 2012 winners of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

13 people in all were given the medal — three of them posthumously. President Barack Obama presented the medals with these remarks:

“This is the highest civilian honor this country can bestow, which is ironic, because nobody sets out to win it.  No one ever picks up a guitar, or fights a disease, or starts a movement, thinking, “You know what, if I keep this up, in 2012, I could get a medal in the White House from a guy named Barack Obama.”  (Laughter.)  That wasn’t in the plan.”

“…What sets these men and women apart is the incredible impact they have had on so many people — not in short, blinding bursts, but steadily, over the course of a lifetime.”

Photo of Barack Obama putting a Medal of Freedom around the neck of Pat Summitt

The full list of Medal of Freedom recipients:

  • Folk-rocker Bob Dylan
  • Poet Toni Morrison
  • Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
  • Astronaut John Glenn
  • Israeli President Shimon Peres
  • Former Supreme Court justice John Paul Stevens
  • Civil rights lawyer John Doar
  • Epidemiologist William Foege
  • Farm organizer Dolores Huerta
  • Basketball coach Pat Summitt
  • Polish officer and Holocaust reporter Jan Karski (posthumous)
  • Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon (posthumous)
  • Japanese WWII-era activist Gordon Hirabayashi (posthumous)
Congratulations to them all.
(Photo top: President Barack Obama shares a laugh with Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Toni Morrison in the Blue Room of the White House on May 29, 2012.
Photo bottom: Obama drapes the Medal of Freedom around the neck of basketball coach Pat Summitt.)


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