W A S H I N G T O N, Aug. 3, 2000 -- President Clinton will bestow the nation’s
highest civilian honor next week on 15 distinguished Americans,
including three senators, an economist, a general, an admiral and
the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Clinton announced today that he will recognize theindividuals at a White House ceremony on Wednesday. Established byPresident Truman as a wartime honor, the Presidential Medal ofFreedom was reintroduced by President Kennedy as way to honorcivilian service.
The award recipients are: Sen. John Chafee, who died last year, served as a Marinelieutenant in the World War II battle at Guadalcanal and fought inthe Korean War. He was a state representative in Rhode Island,governor of Rhode Island and secretary of the Navy. In the Senate,Chafee was a champion of environmental legislation and worked toexpand health care and reform foster care. Retired Gen. Wesley Clark, who as supreme allied commander ofNATO led the alliance to victory in Kosovo. Clark graduated firstin his class at West Point, served in Vietnam and helped negotiatethe Bosnia peace accords. Jesse Jackson, considered both an asset and a pest by the Clintonadministration, frequently is invited to White House events eventhough he flirted briefly with the idea of running for theDemocratic presidential nomination. Jackson was with the Clintonfamily after the president told the nation of his extramaritalaffair with Monica Lewinsky, but drew the ire of Clinton adviserslast year when he ignored their warnings and went to Yugoslavia toretrieve three American soldiers held as prisoners. Retired Adm. William Crowe, former chairman of the Joint Chiefsof Staff, who also served as commander of the Middle East Force inthe Persian Gulf, head of Navy plans and policy and commander inchief of the U.S. Pacific Command. Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children’s DefenseFund. She was the first black woman admitted to the Mississippi barand first black woman elected to the Yale University Corp. John Kenneth Galbraith, a leading economist, taught economicsfor nearly 30 years and has written more than 30 books. DuringWorld War II, he was largely responsible for the Office of PriceAdministration’s record in controlling inflation. He advisedPresidents Kennedy and Johnson and also served as U.S. Ambassadorto India. Monsignor George Higgins, adjunct lecturer at CatholicUniversity, has spent more than 50 years working to ensure workerjustice. He has been honored several times by labor groups and oncewas described as the “labor movement’s parish priest.” Mildred “Millie” Jeffrey, a women’s labor and DemocraticParty activist, was the first female to direct a department of theUnited Auto Workers. She worked for the UAW from 1945 to 1976 andserved on commissions during the Kennedy and Carteradministrations. Mathilde Krim, who founded the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983,was one of the earliest leaders in the effort to find a cure forAIDS. She has worked on topics ranging from cancer research tohuman genetics and her foundation, which joined with the AmericanFoundation for AIDS Research in 1985, has poured millions ofdollars into AIDS research. George McGovern, a Democratic nominee for president in 1972,currently is the U.S. representative to the United Nations’ Foodand Agricultural Organization, where he is helping to develop aplan to address the food needs of 500 million people—half theworld’s underfed—by 2015. He was elected to the House in 1956. Inthe Senate, he led the expansion of the food stamp program. Cruz Reynoso, a private lawyer, teaches law and serves as vicechairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1982, after sixyears on the California Court of Appeals, he became the firstLatino to serve on the California Supreme Court. He also has servedas a U.S. delegate to the United Nations Commission on HumanRights. The Rev. Gardner Taylor, an author and early civil rightssupporter, has been called the “dean of the nation’s blackpreachers. Under his leadership, his church, Concord Baptist Churchof Christ in New York City, became the most prestigious blackchurch in America. Simon Wiesenthal, a Nazi concentration camp survivor, hasdevoted his life to finding evidence to prosecute Nazi warcriminals. In 1977, he founded the Simon Wiesenthal Center, whichworks to fight bigotry and anti-Semitism. President Carterpresented him with the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal in 1980 and hereceived the French Legion of Honor in 1986. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan has represented New York in theSenate since 1977. A strong supporter of Social Security, he is theonly person to serve in the Cabinet of sub-Cabinet, including twoambassadorial appointments, of four successive presidentialadministrations, Kennedy through Ford. James Edward Burke, former chairman of Johnson & Johnson, ischairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. He has helpeddevelop the National Youth Media Campaign and worked to discourageyoung people from using drugs.