View Header


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 5, 1999

Statement by the Press Secretary

President Clinton announced today that he will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Nation's highest civilian honor, to 10 distinguished individuals. The President will bestow the medals at ceremonies to take place during the week of August 9, 1999.

Lloyd M. Bentsen. President Clinton's first Secretary of the Treasury, Lloyd Bentsen served in the House of Representatives from 1948 to 1954. In 1970, he was elected to the United States Senate and served 22 years, including six as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Bentsen was the Vice-Presidential nominee for the Democratic Party in 1988.

Edgar M. Bronfman, Sr. As President of the World Jewish Congress, Edgar Bronfman, Sr. has worked to ensure basic rights for Jews around the world and to fight anti-Semitism and has spearheaded the effort to retrieve the assets of Holocaust victims and their families. Through the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, he has supported educational, literary, scientific, charitable, and religious organizations throughout the world.

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. As Thirty-ninth President of the United States, Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David accords, signed the Panama Canal Treaty, and reestablished normal diplomatic relations with China. Together, the Carters created the Carter Center to promote peace, democracy, and improved health around the world. Through the Center, they launched the Atlanta Project, a grass-roots program to combat urban social ills in the U.S. As a statesman, President Carter has been a successful diplomat in hot spots around the world. Mrs. Carter is a longtime advocate of improved mental health care, widespread childhood immunization, women's equality, and enhanced care for seniors. Each year, the Carters help to build homes for the needy through Habitat for Humanity.

Evy Dubrow. For more than 50 years, Evelyn "Evy" Dubrow has advocated for laws that would improve domestic labor conditions. A representative for the International Ladies Garment Workers Union and for the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees, she has been influential in numerous causes, including broadening laws against discrimination and protecting American industry from unfair foreign competition.

Sister M. Isolina Ferre. Founder and chief executive officer of Centros Sor Isolina Ferre, four community service centers in Puerto Rico, Sister M. Isolina Ferre first gained international recognition in the late 1950s and 1960s for her mediation efforts with youth gangs in Brooklyn, New York. Today, her centers operate clinics and programs to empower the disadvantaged, teach them self-reliance, and lift them out of poverty. For her work with the poor in Puerto Rico, Appalachia, and New York, she received the 1989 Albert Schweitzer Prize for Humanitarianism.

Gerald R. Ford. Thirty-eighth President of the United States, Gerald Ford was elected to 13 terms in Congress before he was chosen by Richard Nixon to be his Vice President. As President, he brought the Vietnam War to a close. Recognized for his honesty and integrity, he worked to restore confidence in government and the Presidency.

Oliver White Hill. One of our nation's great civil rights lawyers, Oliver Hill is best known for litigating one of the school desegregation cases that became Brown v. Board of Education. He and his team of lawyers filed more civil rights suits in Virginia than were filed in any other southern state during the segregation era. In 1948, he became the first African-American politician since Reconstruction elected to the Richmond City Council.

Max Kampelman. Lawyer, negotiator, and diplomat, Max Kampelman held major negotiating posts under both Democratic and Republican administrations during the 1980s. In those roles, he emphasized human rights in East-West diplomacy and prepared the foundation for long-term arms reductions between the United States and the Soviet Union. President Reagan awarded Kampelman the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1989.

Edgar Wayburn. Five-time president and a member of board of directors of the Sierra Club for almost 40 years, Edgar Wayburn pushed for the expansion of California's Mt. Tamalpais State Park and fought for the establishment of Point Reyes National Seashore and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. He also helped to create Redwood National Park in California's Del Norte County and later worked for its expansion. His advocacy helped produce the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980, which protects 104 million acres.

The President will bestow the medal on President and Mrs. Carter in a ceremony at the Carter Center in Atlanta on August 9. The other honorees will receive their medals at a White House ceremony on August 11.