Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Obama Names 13 for 2012 Medal of Freedom

The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor awarded by the federal government of the United States of America.  Each year the recipients are named by the President of the United States and the medal is awarded personally by the President in a ceremony at the White House.  This year, President Obama has named 13 people to receive the Medal of Freedom. I list them below along with the White House’s official description/citation.  Each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation,” Obama  said. “They’ve challenged us, they’ve inspired us, and they’ve made the world a  better place.  I look forward to recognizing them with this award.”

Madeleine Albright (1937-).  From 1997 to 2001, under President William J. Clinton, Albright served as the 64th United States Secretary of State, the first woman to hold that position.  During her tenure, she worked to enlarge NATO and helped lead the Alliance’s campaign against terror and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, pursued peace in the Middle East and Africa, sought to reduce the dangerous spread of nuclear weapons, and was a champion of democracy, human rights, and good governance across the globe.  From 1993 to 1997, she was America’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.  Since leaving office, she founded the Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management, returned to teaching at Georgetown University, and authored five books.  Albright chairs the National Democratic Institute and is President of the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. [Her alma mater, Wellesley College, has named the Albright Institute for International Affairs in her honor. MLW-W] Education: B.A., Wellesley College; M.A., Ph.D., Columbia University.  Fluent in English, French, German & Czech with lesser fluency in Polish and Serbo-Croatian.  Currently, Professor of International Relations, Georgetown University (Walsh School of Foreign Service).

John Doar (1921-).  Doar was a legendary public servant and leader of federal efforts to protect and enforce civil rights during the 1960s.  He served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.  In that capacity, he was instrumental during many major civil rights crises, including singlehandedly preventing a riot in Jackson, Mississippi, following the funeral of slain civil rights leader Medgar Evars in 1963.  Doar brought notable civil rights cases, including obtaining convictions for the 1964 killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County, Mississippi, and leading the effort to enforce the right to vote and implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  He later served as Special Counsel to the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary as it investigated the Watergate scandal and considered articles of impeachment against President Nixon.  Doar continues to practice law at Doar Rieck Kaley & Mack in New York.  Education:  A.B., Princeton University (’44); Ll.B., Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley (’48).

Bob Dylan (1941-).  Born Robert Allen Zimmerman.  One of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century, Dylan released his first album in 1962.  Known for his rich and poetic lyrics, his work had considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s and has had significant impact on American culture over the past five decades.  He has won 11 Grammys, including a lifetime achievement award.  He was named a Commandeur dans l’Ordre des Art et des Lettres and has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation.  Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts.  He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists.  He continues recording and touring around the world today.

William Foege (1936-). A physician and epidemiologist, Foege helped lead the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.  He was appointed Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1977 and, with colleagues, founded the Task Force for Child Survival in 1984.  Foege became Executive Director of The Carter Center in 1986 and continues to serve the organization as a Senior Fellow.  He helped shape the global health work of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and remains a champion of a wide array of issues, including child survival and development, injury prevention, and preventative medicine.  Foege’s leadership has contributed significantly to increased awareness and action on global health issues, and his enthusiasm, energy, and effectiveness in these endeavors have inspired a generation of leaders in public health.  The son of a Lutheran minister, Foege was himself inspired by stories of his uncle, a Lutheran missionary to New Guinea, and by the life and work of Albert Schweitzer.  Education:  B.A., Pacific Lutheran University (’57); M.D., University of Washington School of Medicine (’61); M.P.H., Harvard University School of Public Health (’65).

John Glenn (1921-). Glenn is a former United States Marine Corps pilot, astronaut, and United States Senator.  In 1962, he was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth.  After retiring from the Marine Corps, Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate (D)  in Ohio in 1974. He was an architect and sponsor of the 1978 Nonproliferation Act and served as Chairman of the Senate Government Affairs committee from 1987 until 1995.  In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to visit space at the age of 77. He retired from the Senate in 1999. Glenn is a recipient of the Congressional Gold Medal and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. Education: B. S. in Engineering, Muskingum College. Honorary degrees from 9 different colleges and universities.



Gordon Hirobayashi (1918-2012).  Hirabayashi openly defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.  As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, he refused the order to report for evacuation to an internment camp, instead turning himself in to the FBI to assert his belief that these practices were racially discriminatory.  Consequently, he was convicted by a U.S. Federal District Court in Seattle of defying the exclusion order and violating curfew.  Hirabayashi appealed his conviction all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled against him in 1943.  Following World War II and his time in prison, Hirabayashi obtained his doctoral degree in sociology and became a professor.  In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.  He eventually emigrated to Canada. Hirabayashi died on January 2, 2012, having been diagnosed with Alzheimers’ Disease 11 years earlier. Born into a Christian family in the Mukyokai Christian Movement, Hirobayashi became a convinced member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).  Education: B.A., M.A., Ph.D. (all in sociology), University of Washington.


Dolores Huerta (1930-). Huerta is a civil rights, workers, and women’s advocate. With Cesar Chavez, she co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America.  Huerta has served as a community activist and a political organizer, and was influential in securing the passage of California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975, and disability insurance for farmworkers in California.  In 2002, she founded the Dolores Huerta Foundation, an organization dedicated to developing community organizers and national leaders.  In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.  She has received numerous other honors, including honorary degrees from Mills College and Princeton University, and the 2007 Community of Christ International Peace Award. She is an honorary chair of Democratic Socialists of America and on the board of Equality Now.  Huerta is fluent in Spanish and English.

Jan Karski (1914-2000).  Born Jan Kozielewski, Karski served as an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II and carried among the first eye-witness accounts of the Holocaust to the world.  He worked as a courier, entering the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, where he saw first-hand the atrocities occurring under Nazi occupation.  Karski later traveled to London to meet with the Polish government-in-exile and with British government officials.  He subsequently traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt.  Karski published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.  Born in 1914, Karski became a U.S. citizen in 1954 and died in 2000.


Juliet Gordon Low (1860-1927).  Born in 1860, Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912.  The organization strives to teach girls self-reliance and resourcefulness.  It also encourages girls to seek fulfillment in the professional world and to become active citizens in their communities.  Since 1912, the Girl Scouts has grown into the largest educational organization for girls and has had over 50 million members.  Low died in 1927.  This year, the Girl Scouts celebrate their 100th Anniversary, calling 2012 “The Year of the Girl.”




Toni Morrison (1931).  Born Chloe Ardelia Wofford.  One of our nation’s most celebrated novelists, Morrison is renowned for works such as Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Beloved, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988.  When she became the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize (for Literature) in 1993, Morrison’s citation captured her as an author “who in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality.”  She created the Princeton Atelier at Princeton University to convene artists and students.  Morrison continues to write today. Education:  B.A., English, Howard University (’53); M.A., English, Cornell University (’55).



Shimon Peres (1923-). An ardent advocate for Israel’s security and for peace, Shimon Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007.  First elected to the Knesset in 1959, he has served in a variety of positions throughout the Israeli government, including in twelve Cabinets as Foreign Minister, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Transport and Communications.  Peres served as Prime Minister from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996.  Along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as Foreign Minister during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords. Through his life and work, he has strengthened the unbreakable bonds between Israel and the United States.  Fluent in Hebrew, Yiddish, Russian, Polish, English, and French.


John Paul Stevens (1920). Stevens served as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1975 to 2010, when he retired as the third longest-serving Justice in the Court’s history.  Known for his independent, pragmatic and rigorous approach to judging, Justice Stevens and his work have left a lasting imprint on the law in areas such as civil rights, the First Amendment, the death penalty, administrative law, and the separation of powers.  He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford, and previously served as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.  Stevens is a veteran of World War II, in which he served as a naval intelligence officer and was awarded the Bronze Star.  Education:  B.A., English, University of Chicago (’41); J.D., Magna cum laude, Northwestern University School of Law (’47).


Pat Head Summit (1952).  Born Patricia Sue Head in Clarksville, TN. In addition to accomplishing an outstanding career as the all-time winningest leader among all NCAA basketball coaches, Summitt has taken the University of Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach and has the second best record of NCAA Championships in basketball.  She has received numerous awards, including being named Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century.  Off the court, she has been a spokesperson against Alzheimer’s.  The Pat Summitt Foundation will make grants to nonprofits to provide education and awareness, support to patients and families, and research to prevent, cure and ultimately eradicate early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type.  Married R. B. Summit in 1980. They filed for divorce in 2007. They have one son, Ross Tyler Summit (b. 1990), who played walk on for the University of TN’s men’s basketball team and is set to graduate from UT-Knoxville in May 2012. He has been hired to coach the Marquette University Women’s Basketball team.  Pat Head earned her B.A. at the University of Tennessee at Martin (UT-Martin).  1976, Co-captain of the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team for the 1976 Summer Olympics, winning a silver medal. 1984, Head Coach of the U.S. Women’s Basketball Team for the 1984 U.S. Olympics, winning gold.  August 2011, announced that she had been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.  Announced retirement and given the title Head Coach Emeritus on April 18, 2012.  Her coaching career included 1,098 wins in 1,306 Games in Division I. No other Division I coach, male or female, has won more than 927 games.  1990: Inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame; 1999: Inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Famee; 2000: Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame; 2008: Best Coach/Manager, Espy Award.

This is the amazing group of people who are recipients of this year’s U.S. Medal of Freedom.


April 27, 2012 - Posted by | biographies

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