Thirteen people received the highest civilian honor awarded, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in a recent East Room ceremony at the White House. President Obama continued the tradition that was established by President Harry Truman to honor World War II activities.
Throughout the years, the criteria for recipients of this prestigious award have changed. Those presented with the Medal of Freedom during the 1940s and 1950s were figures who were involved in America's security and diplomacy.
Through an executive order President John Kennedy made significant changes in the selection criteria in 1963. The "especially meritorious contribution" was expanded to include not only "the security or national interests of the United States" but also of "cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
Previous recipients have included Red Sox slugger Ted Williams, General Norman Schwarzkopf, Pope John Paul II, Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren, former President Ronald Reagan and, more recently, former astronaut-turned Sen. John Glenn and Tennessee's own legend of leadership, Pat Summitt.
The decision of those selected as recipients lies solely with the president.
Among the most recent recipients, an individual devoted to the antithesis of freedom was adorned with the blue ribbon holding the red and white enameled badge featuring a golden star framed by American eagles with wings spread.
Dolores Huerta, a current honorary chairwoman of the Democratic Socialists of America, the largest socialist organization in the U.S., was chosen by the president. She is the namesake of the Dolores Huerta Foundation, the mission of which is "to create a network of organized communities pursuing social justice through systemic and structural transformation."
Huerta also is a co-founder, with Cesar Chavez, of the National Farmworkers Association, now the United Farm Workers union.
President Obama alone made his selection of Medal of Freedom recipients. Disgustingly, one of his choices has turned an honor into a token.
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