President Barack Obama has named thirteen recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The awards will be presented at the White House in late spring.
President Obama said, “These extraordinary honorees come from different backgrounds and different walks of life, but each of them has made a lasting contribution to the life of our Nation. 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.”
Among those to be honored is Former Senator and Astronaut John Glenn, 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 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.
"NASA sends its warmest congratulations to Sen. John Glenn on being named a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Both of John's historic missions to space personified America's dreams and what we believed we could be," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Just as President Obama has set us on a course to explore farther destinations in the solar system, John Glenn helped this nation forge a path to a brighter future with greater capabilities. We will build on his achievements to remain the world's space leader for generations to come." (NASA image John Glenn boards Friendship 7)