On Thursday, President Barack Obama named 13 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made special contributions to the United States. The awards recognize individuals who have contributed to the “security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
President Obama will presented the awards at the White House in late spring. 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.”
Here’s a run-down of all 13 individuals to be awarded the notable prize:
13) Madeleine Albright
Albright served as Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001 under President Clinton. She was the first woman to hold that position. During her time in office, she worked to enlarge NATO and led the campaign against ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. Since leaving office, she returned to teaching at Georgetown University and authored five books.
12) John Doar
Doar served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. He was a civil rights leader for the federal government during the 1960s, helping to prevent a riot in Jackson, Mississippi following the funeral of Medgar Evars in 1963 and leading the effort to implement the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
11) Bob Dylan
Dylan is one of the most influential American musicians of the 20th century. His work heavily influenced the civil rights movement. He has won 11 Grammys and has received a Pulitzer Prize Special Citation. Dylan was awarded the 2009 National Medal of Arts. He has written more than 600 songs, and his songs have been recorded more than 3,000 times by other artists.
10) William Foege
Foege led the successful campaign to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. He was appointed Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1977 and became Executive Director of The Carter Center in 1986. Foege has been a leader on global health issues for the past four decades.
9) John Glenn
Glenn is a former astronaut and United States Senator. He was the third American in space and the first American to orbit the Earth in 1962. Glenn was elected to the U.S. Senate in Ohio in 1974. In 1998, Glenn became the oldest person to visit space at 77 years old. He retired from the Senate in 1999.
8) Gordon Hirabayashi
Hirabayashi was a student at the University of Washington when he defied the forced relocation and internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. He refused to report for evacuation to an internment camp, and consequently was convicted for defying the exclusion order and violating curfew. He appealed his conviction to the Supreme Court, ruled against him in 1943. In 1987, his conviction was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
7) Dolores Huerta
Along with Cesar Chavez, Huerta co-founded the National Farmworkers Association in 1962, which later became the United Farm Workers of America. She is a community activist and organizer, as well as a workers and women’s advocate. In 1998, President Clinton awarded her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights.
6) Jan Karski
Karski was an officer in the Polish Underground during World War II. He worked as a courier in the Warsaw ghetto and the Nazi Izbica transit camp, and therefore served as one of the first eye-witnesses to the Holocaust. He traveled to the United States and met with President Roosevelt, and he published Story of a Secret State, earned a Ph.D at Georgetown University, and became a professor at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service.
5) Juliette Gordon Low
Low founded the Girl Scouts in 1912, which has since become one of the largest educational organization for girls, with 50 million members. She died in 1927.
4) Toni Morrison
Morrison is one of America’s most famous novelists, the author of Song of Solomon, Jazz, and Beloved, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She became the first African American woman to win a Nobel Prize in 1993.
3) Shimon Peres
Peres was elected the ninth President of Israel in 2007. He was first elected to the Israeli Knesset in 1959, he has served in positions throughout the Israeli government, including Foreign Minister and Minister of Defense. He served as Prime Minister from 1984-1986 and 1995-1996. Peres won the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize for his work during the Middle East peace talks that led to the Oslo Accords.
2) John Paul Stevens
Stevens served as a Supreme Court Justice from 1975 to 2010. He was the third longest-serving Justice in the Court’s history. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President Gerald Ford. He is a veteran of World War II, in which he was awarded the Bronze Star.
1) Pat Summitt
Summitt is the all-time winningest leader of all NCAA basketball coaches, and she has taken the University of Tennessee to more Final Four appearances than any other coach. She has received numerous awards, including being named Naismith Women’s Collegiate Coach of the Century. In addition, the Pat Summitt Foundation is one of the country’s leading foundations for preventing and curing Alzheimer’s.