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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 9, 2000


The President today awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 15 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. The Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States Government. It 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:


Jim Burke has set the highest standards for corporate responsibility and civic involvement. As CEO of Johnson & Johnson, he promptly responded to a public health and corporate crisis of unprecedented proportions, placing the safety of consumers ahead of company profits. As Chairman of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America, he has energized America's advertising and media industries to create hundreds of powerful anti-drug messages, and he brought the Partnership together with the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign in a historic public health education effort that is changing American youths' attitudes about drugs. America salutes Jim Burke for his deep commitment to the welfare if its citizens.


Consummate statesman and patriot, John Chafee provided the model for service to America. As a Marine in World War II and Korea, and later as Secretary of the Navy, he fought to protect the freedoms we cherish. As a State Representative, Governor, and U.S. Senator, he was a leader of the highest integrity, decency, and civility. John Chafee transcended partisanship to help forge some of the major environmental legislation of our time and promote the well-being of our children and disabled citizens. We honor John Chafee for his enduring legacy of cleaner air and water, conservation of precious natural resources, and compassionate advocacy on behalf of others.


Respected for his military expertise, keen intellect, and diplomatic skill, General Wesley Clark has distinguished himself as a soldier, scholar, and statesman. Graduating from West Point at the head of his class, he set a standard of excellence that has been his lifelong benchmark, whether serving in Vietnam; as a key negotiator of the Dayton Peace Accords; or as head of the U.S. European Command. As Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, he led the 19-member alliance to an historic victory in Kosovo in NATO's longest and most difficult military campaign. For his outstanding leadership and dedicated service, General Clark has earned the respect and admiration of a grateful Nation.


A powerful force for peace and freedom, Admiral William J. Crowe, Jr. has stood watch over our country for more than 50 years, helping to preserve the liberty we hold dear. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he worked vigorously to increase cooperation among the Armed Services, improving the speed, flexibility, and efficiency of U.S. defense capabilities. After retiring from a brilliant Navy career, he served with distinction as Ambassador to the United Kingdom and has strived to reduce the vulnerability of American embassies to terrorist attacks. Sailor, scholar, diplomat, and patriot, Admiral William Crowe has dedicated his life to charting a strong course for America.


A passionate advocate on behalf of children, minorities, and the poor, Marian Wright Edelman has given a powerful voice to those too often unheard. The first African American woman admitted to the Mississippi bar, she devoted herself to the struggle for civil rights. As founder of the Children's Defense Fund, for almost 30 years she has championed the needs of our Nation's children and families - from childcare to education to children's health. When our children cried out, "Dear Lord, be good to me. The sea is so wide, and my boat is so small," God blessed them with Marian Wright Edelman.


A renowned economist, distinguished public servant, influential educator, and prolific author, John Kenneth Galbraith has contributed immeasurably to the life of our Nation. With clarity, wit, and a keen social conscience, he has made complex economic theories and processes comprehensible to a wide audience and highlighted the social and ethical impacts of economic policies. A tireless reformer of the free enterprise system, he has resolutely promoted social justice and challenged conventional assumptions in his Harvard classroom and in the public arena. Throughout his full life, John Kenneth Galbraith has used his sharp intellect and his clear moral vision to create a "good society."


For more than half a century, Monsignor George Higgins has championed workers' rights, civil rights, and religious tolerance. As Director of the Social Action Department of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chairman of the Public Review Board of the United Auto Workers, and Chairman of the United Farmworkers' Martin Luther King, Jr., Fund, he has played a vital role in strengthening the labor movement and protecting workers from exploitation. Putting his faith into action, Monsignor Higgins has worked unceasingly to improve the relationship between Jewish and Catholic communities as well as the quality of life for working families worldwide. We honor him for his unwavering commitment to fairness and equality.


Jesse Jackson has long been a powerful voice in the struggle for civil rights, economic opportunity, and social justice across America and around the globe. Minister and stirring orator, he has preached a gospel of hope, unity, and responsibility and has helped establish common ground across lines of race, class, gender, nationality, and faith. As Founder and President of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and the Wall Street Project, he has worked hard to expand opportunity through education and employment. A tireless advocate for peace, international understanding, and human dignity, Jesse Jackson has kept alive the promise of a better world for people everywhere.


For more than 60 years -- from the days of the Great Depression to today's unprecedented economic expansion -- Mildred Jeffrey has helped working men and women break down the barriers to social and economic justice and thrive as members of America's labor force. The first director of the women's department of the UAW and a founding member of the National Women's Political Caucus, she has inspired generations of women to make their voices heard and their votes count. Advisor to President Kennedy on youth employment and to President Carter on women's issues, Millie Jeffrey has lit the way to a brighter future for people across our Nation.


A noted biomedical researcher and AIDS educator, Mathilde Krim has served on the front lines of the battle against HIV and AIDS for almost 2 decades. One of the first to recognize the gravity of the AIDS pandemic, she established the AIDS Medical Foundation in 1983, which grew into the American Foundation for AIDS Research. As the Foundation's chair, she has devoted herself to developing and funding community-based AIDS research and raising public awareness about the disease. An extraordinary example of compassion and commitment, Mathilde Krim has given comfort and hope to and preserved the dignity of thousands of people living with AIDS.


War hero, Senator, and diplomat, George McGovern embodies national service. As Director of the Food for Peace program, he oversaw the donation of millions of tons of food to the developing world, and in the Senate, he continued to lead the crusade against hunger by expanding key nutrition programs. Today, as our Representative to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization, Ambassador McGovern is fighting to make real his visionary plan to feed 500 million of the world's hungry by 2015. George McGovern is one of the greatest humanitarians of our time, and the world will benefit from his legacy for generations to come.


An academic, diplomat, public servant, and champion of the underprivileged, Daniel Patrick Moynihan has worked for social and economic justice throughout his extraordinary career. The only American to serve as a high-level advisor to four successive Presidents, he focused a national spotlight on poverty and urban blight. As U.S. Ambassador to India and the United Nations, he steadfastly defended democracy, freedom, and America's interests. During his four Senate terms, he has demonstrated unparalleled vision in crafting laws that have improved the lives of millions. Daniel Patrick Moynihan's wisdom, wit, and compassion have brightened our Nation's public life, and we salute him for his distinguished service.


The son of farm workers, Cruz Reynoso has devoted his life to ending discrimination, fighting for immigrant rights, and promoting equal opportunity. Through his efforts to address social inequality in his rural community, his leadership of the pioneering California Rural Legal Assistance program, his tenure as the first Latino on the California Supreme Court, and his service on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, he has been a strong force for change and a passionate voice for our Nation's disadvantaged. Respected for his legal expertise and renowned for his compassion, Cruz Reynoso has earned his place as one of America's most distinguished lawyers, jurists, and social reformers.


One of America?s greatest preachers, the Reverend Gardner C. Taylor has uplifted us through his eloquent sermons, providing a moral compass to help guide the lives of people across our Nation and around the world. His life's work has been a sermon as well, teaching that none live in dignity when any are oppressed and that faith can transcend racial, social, and economic boundaries. As a civil rights pioneer and longtime pastor of Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church, Gardner Taylor is a man of the people and of God, and a leader of singular courage, humility, and compassion.


A survivor of World War II concentration camps, Simon Wiesenthal has been at the forefront of Holocaust remembrance for more than 50 years, devoting his life to bringing perpetrators of Nazi atrocities to justice. His efforts have ensured the arrest of more than 1,000 war criminals, and he continues to inspire others in the fight against racism and intolerance. For his commitment to preserving the memory of Holocaust victims, his unrelenting pursuit of truth, and his dedication to educating a new generation about the devastating consequences of remaining silent in the face of horror, the world owes its profound gratitude to Simon Wiesenthal.