Here Are Joe Biden's 17 Picks For The Presidential Medal Of Freedom

The list of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients this year also includes civil rights activists and the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

President Joe Biden on Friday named 17 people as his first picks to receive the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Established in 1963, the medal is the top US civilian honor and is presented at the discretion of each commander-in-chief to individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

In a statement announcing the selections, the White House said Biden believed the 17 people exemplified the possibilities of the United States.

"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," the White House said.

The awards will be presented on July 7. Here are the recipients:

1. Simone Biles — Olympic gymnast and advocate for mental health and sexual assault survivors

Simone Biles is shown

2. Sister Simone Campbell — Catholic social justice advocate

3. Julieta García — former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville and the first Latin woman to serve as a college president

Julieta Garcia is shown

4. Gabrielle Giffords — former member of Congress who became a gun control advocate after she was injured in a mass shooting

Gabby Giffords speaking at a rally

5. Fred Gray — civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. and one of the first Black members of the Alabama state legislature since Reconstruction

Fred Gray is shown

6. Steve Jobs (posthumous recipient) — founder of Apple who died in 2011

7. Father Alexander Karloutsos — former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America who provided spiritual counsel to several US presidents

Alexander Karloutsos is shown

8. Khizr Khan — constitutional rights advocate and Gold Star parent

Khizr Khan is shown holding up a copy of the constitution as he gives a speech next to his wife at the 2016 DNC

9. Sandra Lindsay — a New York City nurse who was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

Sandra Lindsay receiving a covid vaccine while wearing a face mask

10. John McCain (posthumous recipient) — former US senator from Arizona, 2008 Republican nominee for president, and a prisoner during the Vietnam War who died in 2018

John McCain waving

11. Diane Nash — civil rights activist and founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee

Diane Nash smiles

12. Megan Rapinoe — Olympian, US women's soccer star, and advocate for gender equity and the LGBTQ community

Megan Rapinoe gives a thumbs up as she wears a medal around her neck

13. Alan Simpson — US senator for Wyoming between 1979 and 1997

14. Richard Trumka (posthumous recipient) — former labor activist and president of the AFL-CIO who died in 2021

Richard Trumka is shown

15. Wilma Vaught — Air Force veteran who was the first woman to deploy with a bomber unit and the first woman promoted to Brigadier General in the comptroller career field

Wilma Vaught gives a speech

16. Denzel Washington — two-time Oscar-winning actor

Denzel Washington is shown smiling

17. Raúl Yzaguirre — civil rights advocate who was the leader of National Council of La Raza (now known as UnidosUS) and the former US ambassador to the Dominican Republic

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