White House names the latest Medal of Freedom recipients

A king, a sultan, a senator, two judges, a major GOP donor and “Captain America” – these are the latest recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor.

The White House on Saturday named seven people who will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom this Friday.

The list includes posthumous awards for Elvis Presley, often called the “King of Rock n’ Roll,” Yankees great Babe Ruth, a.k.a. the “Sultan of Swat,” and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart.

Also receiving the award are Roger Staubach, a Vietnam War vet and legendary Dallas Cowboys quarterback known as “Captain America” during his 11 Hall-of-Fame seasons; and Alan Page, a retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice and former football star at Notre Dame. The White House praised Page, who was also a NFL Hall-of-Famer, for giving scholarship to nearly 7,000 students.

Retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, is another winner.

The Utah pol, one of President Trump’s strongest backers in Congress, is the 28th senator to receive the award.

Likely the most controversial recipient is Miriam Adelson, a doctor and philanthropist who with her husband, Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, has donated millions to Republican causes, including Trump.

Adelson is receiving the honor for her work as a “committed doctor, philanthropist and humanitarian,” according to the White House press release, which cited her efforts founding two research centers for fighting substance abuse and the Adelson Medical Research Foundation. Her work supporting Jewish schools, Holocaust memorial organizations and several Israeli causes was also praised.

But critics pounced on the fact that the couple gave over $100 million to Republican campaigns for the midterm elections. They also served as ”finance vice chairs” of the president’s inaugural committee.

Some detractors also criticized Trump for giving awards to dead people, but posthumous awards are routine for presidents of both parties.

Former President John F. Kennedy created the Medal of Freedom in 1963 for “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace. or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

At least 70 people, including Kennedy himself, have received posthumous awards.

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