Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles and world soccer star Megan Rapinoe received the nation’s highest civilian honor today: the Presidential Medal of Freedom. President Joe Biden bestowed the award to both athletes at the White House, along with 15 other honorees, including actor Denzel Washington, former Senator Alan Simpson and former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. John McCain and Steve Jobs were both honored posthumously.
Biles is the most decorated gymnast of all time, with 32 Olympic and world championship medals. The GOAT is also an advocate for mental health awareness, children in the foster care and victims of sexual assault. Rapinoe is a two-time Women's World Cup winner, 2012 Olympic gold medalist and is an advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQIA+ rights.
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The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s. It is awarded to those who have made outstanding public or private contributions to society. President Biden himself received the award from President Barack Obama in 2017.
“President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities. These 17 Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation — hard work, perseverance and faith,” the White House said in a statement last week. “They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities — and across the world — while blazing trails for generations to come.”