Steven Spielberg, Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim, Gloria Estefan and James Taylor are among the recipients of this year’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, to be presented at the White House by President Obama on Nov. 24.
Other recipients include veterans activist Bonnie Carroll, music producer Emilio Estefan, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson, baseball legend Willie Mays, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), conductor Itzhak Perlman and former EPA administrator William Ruckelshaus. Posthumous honors will go to Yogi Berra; Shirley Chisholm, the first African American woman elected to Congress; Indian treaty rights activist Billy Frank Jr. and human rights leader Minoru Yasui.
The Medal of Freedom is the White House’s highest civilian honor.
The list of recipients of each year’s Medal of Freedom usually includes a handful from entertainment. Meryl Streep and Stevie Wonder were among the recipients in 2014. Sondheim was a recipient last year, but could not make the ceremony, and Obama said back then that he would receive the honor at the 2015 event.
The White House’s full descriptions of the recipients are below:
Yogi Berra (posthumous)
Yogi Berra spent over 40 years as a professional baseball catcher, manager, and coach. Widely regarded as one of the greatest catchers in baseball history – and an all-time Yankee great – Berra was an 18-time All-Star and 10-time World Series Champion who was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972. Always quick witted, Berra was famous for his “Yogi-isms,” teaching us all that we can observe a lot just by watching. Berra was also a lifelong ambassador for inclusion in sports. Berra put his professional career on hold to join the Navy during World War II, where he fought with Allied forces on D-Day and eventually earned a Purple Heart.
Bonnie Carroll is a life-long public servant who has devoted her life to caring for our military and veterans. After her husband, Brigadier General Tom Carroll, died in an Army C-12 plane crash in 1992, Carroll founded the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), which provides comprehensive support to those impacted by the death of their military hero, bringing healing comfort and compassionate care to the living legacies of our nation’s service and sacrifice. Carroll is also a retired Major in the Air Force Reserve. She serves on the Defense Health Board, and co-chaired the Department of Defense Task Force on the Prevention of Suicide in the Armed Forces.
Shirley Chisholm (posthumous)
Shirley Chisholm made history in 1968 by becoming the first African-American woman elected to Congress, beginning the first of seven terms in the House of Representatives. In 1969 she became one of the founding members of what would become the Congressional Black Caucus. Not satisfied, Chisholm went on to make history yet again, becoming the first major-party African-American female candidate to make a bid for the U.S. presidency when she ran for the Democratic nomination in 1972. She was a champion of minority education and employment opportunities throughout her tenure in Congress. After leaving Congress in 1983, Chisolm taught at Mount Holyoke College and frequently lectured and gave speeches at colleges and universities throughout the country.
Emilio Estefan is a passionate and visionary music producer, entrepreneur, author, and songwriter who has won nineteen Grammy Awards and influenced a generation of artists. As the founding member of the Miami Sound Machine, and later through a decades-long career producing and shaping the work of countless stars, Estefan has helped popularize Latin music around the world. He has received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Emilio Estefan is an inductee to the Latin Songwriters Hall of Fame and a recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.’
SOURCE: Ted Johnson