At 10 am this morning, President Barack Obama awarded 16 Medals of Freedom. This is the 50th anniversary of the Medal of Freedom being initiated by the late president John F. Kennedy, a call to service. This is the highest civilian award possible to receive. Obama uses his charm and personality to carry the crowd.
As an example, during the course of the speech the president made an off the cuff remark, telling the crowd ‘we all have moments when we look back and wonder what was I thinking…‘ The president looked at the audience and delivered the punch line, saying ‘I know I have” Most likely a reference to the ongoing Affordable Care Act debacle.
Although this is a day to remember John F. Kennedy who initiated nationwide appreciation for the bold actions of fellow Americans who have the passion to change our country, it is also a time to reflect on how Barack Obama has benefited from the Kennedy Legacy although he was too young to actually know the revered President Kennedy.
The 2013 honorees for the Medal of Freedom in alphabetical order are Ernie Banks from the Chicago Cubs, Ben Bradlee the former Washington Post Editor, 42nd President of the United States Bill Clinton, Daniel K. Inouye the Asian American politician from Hawaii, Dr. Daniel Kahneman the 2002 Nobel Prize winner who studies human judgement, Richard G. Luger a senator for thirty years who worked on nuclear disarmament, Loretta Lynn the legendary country music performer, the 1995 Nobel Prize winning chemist Mario Molina who was born in Mexico, Sally K. Ride the deceased first woman astronaut whose lesbian partner accepted for her, the deceased Bayard Ruston the former Martin Luther King advisor, known for his open support of homosexuality had his partner accepting his medal, Arturo Sandoval the Jazz musician who risked everything and defected from Cuba to share his love for jazz music with the world, University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith, the well known feminist Gloria Steinem who initiated take our daughter to work day, Rev. C. T. Vivian of the freedom movement , Judge Patricia Wald of the U S Circuit court and last but not least, the iconic Oprah Winfrey a global media icon whose name is known across the world.
During the presentation, the president made the comment that ‘this country has a place for everybody ready to serve.’ The Medal of Freedom Honorees speak volumes about race relations and human relations in America because of their diverse lives. This is a great event to showcase the essence of the American spirit. It inspires the belief that each of us can make a contribution to the improvement of race relations and advancement of the American dream.
The president also made a statement about social transformation when he commented on Oprah Winfrey being advised to change her name to 'Suzy' to gain the acceptance of the American public. We've come a long way, baby.Social transformation in America is an ongoing process with many examples of success as these 2013 award recipients have proven.