Monday, March 2, 2015
I happened across a photo of Harper Lee being awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007 by George W. Bush, probably the President way on the other end of the literary spectrum from say Thomas Jefferson. I did an earlier post about Ray Bradbury and "W" - see post of April 29, 2013.
Curious as to what this medal signifies I found: The Presidential Medal of Freedom is an award bestowed by the President of the United States and is—along with the comparable Congressional Gold Medal, bestowed by an act of U.S. Congress—the highest civilian award of the United States. It recognizes those individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors". The award is not limited to U.S. citizens and, while it is a civilian award, it can also be awarded to military personnel and worn on the uniform.
So Harper Lee joined a strange and varied group that includes such previous award winners as: Tony Blair, Whittaker Chambers, Dick Cheney, Alan Greenspan, Andy Griffith, Richard Petty, Nancy Reagan, Donald Rumsfeld, and very ironically, Strom Thurmond. George W kept out of Cheney's way partly by awarding many of these medals - shown below is his presentation to Arnold Palmer!