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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 11, 1999


The President today will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 8 individuals.

President Kennedy established the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Executive Order on February 22, 1963. He announced the first Presidential Medal of Freedom award recipients in 1963; and President Johnson made the first presentations of the Medal in a ceremony at the White House on December 6, 1963. It is the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Government. The Medal is awarded by the President only to those persons whom he deems to 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. Citizens of other nations may receive the Medal, and honorees may receive it posthumously. Recipients are awarded a medal and a citation signed by the President.

The text of the citations presented today read as follows:


A man of courage, wisdom, and civility, Lloyd Bentsen has set the highest standard for public service. As a young World War II combat pilot, he risked his life to defend freedom. In the House of Representatives and the Senate, he promoted fiscal responsibility and free trade while supporting the civil rights of minorities and women and protections for children and older Americans. As Secretary of the Treasury, he helped bring greater opportunity and unprecedented prosperity to our country. A friend to business and workers alike, Lloyd Bentsen has earned our deep appreciation for his extraordinary contributions to the well-being of our Nation.


A powerful voice for human rights, Edgar Bronfman has advanced religious freedom and tolerance around the world. As President of the World Jewish Congress, he has fought persecution, helped preserve Jewish heritage, and struggled to secure justice for victims of the Holocaust. Through the Samuel Bronfman Foundation, he has improved the lives of countless individuals, with enduring contributions to educational, cultural, literary, scientific, and religious organizations. For his steadfast devotion to others, Edgar Bronfman has earned our Nation's deep gratitude.


For more than five decades, Evy Dubrow has fought to improve the lives of America's working women and men. A tenacious and effective union activist, she has been a force for social justice and improved labor conditions by working for increases in the minimum wage, health care reform, family and medical leave, and pay equity for women. Renowned for her grace, candor, and integrity, she has earned the respect of opponents and allies alike. Our Nation salutes Evy Dubrow for her invaluable service to America's working families.


With her conviction that "all people are equal in the sight of God," Sister M. Isolina Ferr' has combined her deep religious faith with her compassionate and creative advocacy for the disadvantaged. Through the centers she founded in her native Puerto Rico and her work in New York City and Appalachia, she has empowered individuals and families by helping them recognize their dignity and abilities. Emphasizing the value of education, self-reliance, and meaningful employment, she helps young people realize their potential. With her good heart and selfless spirit, Sister Isolina Ferr' has given many the gift of hope and the promise of a fulfilling future.


Gerald R. Ford assumed the Presidency and led America during a time of unprecedented challenge. Building on bonds of trust forged during 25 years of exemplary public service in the United States Congress, he guided our Nation toward reconciliation and a reestablished confidence in our government. A leader of character, courage, decency, and integrity, he earned the Nation's enduring respect and gratitude. America is forever indebted to Gerald R. Ford -- 38th President of the United States -- for his legacy of healing and restored hope.


A courageous civil rights advocate, Oliver Hill has devoted his life to building a more just and inclusive America. As a trial lawyer, he won landmark cases that secured equal rights for African Americans in education, employment, housing, voting, and jury selection. Successfully litigating one of the school desegregation cases later decided by the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education, he played a key role in overturning the "separate but equal" doctrine. For his unyielding efforts to improve the lives of his fellow Americans and his unwavering dedication to justice for all, our Nation honors Oliver Hill.


Throughout his distinguished career as a lawyer, educator, and diplomat, Max Kampelman has resolutely promoted social justice and democratic values. As the leader of the U.S. Delegation to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, he championed human rights and gave legitimacy to their pursuit, undermining the pillars of communism and helping to lead to its collapse. As a tenacious negotiator, he laid the groundwork for long-term nuclear arms reduction between the United States and the Soviet Union. A skilled and courageous Ambassador, Max Kampelman has made lasting contributions to human dignity and a more secure world.


A distinguished physician and environmental pioneer, Edgar Wayburn has dedicated his life to sustaining the health of our earth and its people. Recognizing that development threatened California's most beautiful open spaces, he worked to establish the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Redwood National Park. With his wife, Peggy, he led a successful campaign to preserve millions of acres of Alaskan wilderness. Edgar Wayburn's devotion to national and international conservation has enriched Americans' lives, and he has earned the Nation's profound gratitude.

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