John F. Kennedy gave the Presidential Medal of Freedom to E.B. White, Thornton Wilder, Felix Frankfurter, and Marion Anderson, among others.
Lyndon Johnson list of medal honorees included on John F. Kennedy, Walt Disney, Aaron Copland, T.S. Eliot, John Lewis, Walter Lippman, Carl Sandburg, John Steinbeck, Reinhold Niebuhr, Helen Keller, A. Philip Randolph, Ralph Ellison, and Bob Hope.
Richard Nixon honored Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Duke Ellington, and John Ford, to name a few.
Gerald Ford gave the medal to Jesse Owens, Irving Berlin, Omar Bradley, Joe DiMaggio, Bruce Catton, Will Durant, Lady Bird Johnson, Georgia O’Keefe, James Michener, and Norman Rockwell.
Jimmy Carter bestowed the medal on Andrew Young, Earl Warren, Walter Cronkite, John Wayne, Robert Penn Warren, Lyndon Johnson, Tennessee Williams, Hubert Humphrey, Beverly Sills, Martin Luther King Jr., Jonas Salk, Margaret Mead, and Ansel Adams.
Ronald Reagan’s list of medal winners included Billy Graham, Jacob Javits, Dumas Malone, Bear Bryant, James Cagney, Whittake Chambers, Louis L’Amour, Norman Vincent Peale, Jackie Robinson, Anwar Sadat, Eunice Kennedy Shrives, Count Basie, Jacques Cousteau, Frank Sinatra, Mother Theresa, Jimmy Stewart, Chuck Yeager, Helen Hayes, Barry Goldwater, Danny Kaye, Pearl Bailey, and Milton Friedman.
George H.W. Bush gave the medal to Lucille Ball, George Kennan, George Schultz, Lech Walesa, James Baker, William F. Buckley, Betty Ford, Tip O’Neill, Friedrich Hayek, Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, Ted Williams, David Brinkley, Johnny Carson, Ella Fitzgerald, Audrey Hepburn, Richard Petty, Elie Wiesel, I.M. Pei, and Ronald Reagan.
Bill Clinton awarded Arthur Ashe, William Brennan, J. William Fulbright, Thurgood Marshall, Martha Raye, Cesar Chavez, Barbara Jordan, Sargent Schriver, John Hope Franklin, C. Everett Koop, James Brady, Rosa Parks, Bob Dole, Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter, Gerald Ford, John Kenneth Galbraith, Jesse Jackson, George McGovern, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
George W. Bush’s list included Hank Aaron, Bill Cosby (woops), Placido Domingo, Katharine Graham, Irving Kristol, Nelson Mandela, Nancy Reagan, Fred Rogers, Jacques Barzun, Julia Child, Roberto Clemente, Vaclav Havel, Charlton Heston, John Wooden, Doris Day, John Paul II, Rita Moreno, Arnold Palmer, Muhammad Ali, Carol Burnett, Andy Griffith, Paul Harvey, Jack Nicklaus, Frank Robinson, B.B. King, David McCullough, Francis Collins, Harper Lee, Ben Carson, Anthony Fauci, and Tony Blair.
Barack Obama gave the award to Jack Kemp, Stephen Hawking, Ted Kennedy, Billy Jean King, Harvey Milk, Sandra Day O’Connor, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Desmond Tutu, Maya Angelou, Warren Buffett, George H.W. Bush, John Lewis, Yo-Yo Ma, Stan Musial, Bill Russell, Madeleine Albright, Bob Dylan, John Glenn, Toni Morrison, John Paul Stevens, Ernie Banks, Ben Bradlee, Bill Clinton, Richard Lugar, Sally Ride, Loretta Lynn, Bayard Rustin, Dean Smith, Oprah Winfrey, Tom Brokaw, Ethel Kennedy, Meryl Streep, Marlo Thomas, Stevie Wonder, Steven Spielberg, Emilio Estefan, Gloria Estefan, Itzhak Perlman, Barbara Streisand, James Taylor, Shirley Chisolm, Yogi Berra, Willie Mays, Robert Redford, Robert DeNiro, Tom Hanks, Cicely Tyson, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Lorne Michaels, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill and Melinda Gates, Vin Scully, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan, and Joe Biden.
Donald Trump has given the award to Orrin Hatch, Edwin Meese, Jerry West, Tiger Woods, Mariano Rivera, Arthur Laffer, Lou Holtz, Rush Limbaugh, and Jim Ryun, to name a few.
This year Trump is giving the award to Olympic athlete Bad Didrikson Zaharias (she died in 1956), pro-Trump congressman Devin Nunes and Jim Jordan (I assume based on their defense of Trump during the impeachment hearings in the House), Gary Player (whose does not want him to accept it), women’s golfer Annika Sorenstam.
Patriots coach Bill Belichik, who was also scheduled to receive a 2021 Medal of Freedom, refuses to accept it. Here is CNN:
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has announced that he is declining the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which he was scheduled to receive from President Donald Trump on Thursday.
Belichick cited the “tragic events of last week” as leading to his decision. Pro-Trump rioters rampaged in the US Capitol last Wednesday. Five people died as a result of the chaos, including a US Capitol Police officer. House Democrats want to impeach Trump, accusing him of “incitement of insurrection.”
“Recently, I was offered the opportunity to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which I was flattered by out of respect for what the honor represents and admiration for prior recipients,” Belichick said in a statement. “Subsequently, the tragic events of last week occurred and the decision has been made not to move forward with the award. Above all, I am an American citizen with great reverence for our nation’s values, freedom and democracy.”
Read the entire piece here.