Megan Rapinoe to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

The Olympic gold medalist and two-time women’s world champion becomes the first ever female soccer player to win the Medal of Freedom.

SEATTLES — Editor’s Note: The video above was originally published on March 24, 2021.

President Joe Biden next week will present 17 people, including OL Reign captain Megan Rapinoe, with the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Rapinoe will skip the United States’ World Cup qualifier against Jamaica on July 7 to accept the prestigious award.

Rapinoe, who was at training camp in Denver when the White House called to update her on the honor, thought she was going to get a prank or automated call when she saw her phone say “White House,” US said Soccer in a statement. She showed her phone to a teammate, who encouraged her to take the call.

The Olympic gold medalist and two-time women’s world champion becomes the first ever female soccer player to win the Medal of Freedom.

The White House said in a press release that Rapinoe is a “prominent advocate for gender pay equality, racial justice and LGBTQI+ rights.”

Rapinoe was instrumental in a six-year fight to ensure US women soccer players were paid the same as their male counterparts.

“I think for kids growing up now, they see that at least it codifies in writing that it’s going to be the standard going forward,” Rapinoe said after the landmark agreement. “Obviously, I think it’s going to have a lot more of an impact on women in the short term. I say it all the time, I hope these little kids are richer than me and they certainly will be.”

Biden’s honor roll includes both living and deceased honorees from Hollywood, sports, politics, the military, academia, and civil and social rights defense.

The honorees receiving medals from Biden “overcame significant obstacles to achieve impressive achievements in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to serving those most vulnerable among us, and acted boldly to drive change in their communities and around the world, while paving the way for generations to come,” the White House said.

The honor is reserved for individuals who have made exemplary contributions to United States prosperity, values, or security, to world peace, or to other significant societal, public, or private endeavors, the White House said.

The other 16 medalists are:

Simone Biles. Biles is the most decorated American gymnast in history with a total of 32 medals at Olympic Games and World Championships. Biles is also a prominent advocate for the mental health and safety of athletes, children in foster care and victims of sexual assault.

Sister Simone Campbell. Campbell is a member of the Sisters of Social Service and a former executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization. She advocates for economic justice and overhauls the US immigration system and health care policy.

Julia Garcia. Garcia, a former president of the University of Texas at Brownsville, was the first Latina to become college president, the White House said. She was named one of the top college presidents in the country by Time Magazine.

Gabrielle Giffords. The Democrat, a former member of the US House of Representatives from Arizona, founded Giffords, an organization dedicated to ending gun violence. She was shot in the head during an inaugural event in Tucson in January 2011 and seriously injured.

FredGray. Gray was one of the first black members of the Alabama legislature after Reconstruction. He was a prominent civil rights attorney who represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP, and Martin Luther King Jr.

Steve Jobs. Jobs was co-founder, CEO and chairman of Apple Inc. He died in 2011.

Father Alexander Karloutsos. Karloutsos is the assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America. The White House said Karloutsos has advised several US presidents.

Khizr Khan. Khan’s son, an immigrant from Pakistan, was killed in Iraq. Khan rose to national prominence and became the target of Donald Trump’s wrath after speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

Sandra Lindsey. Lindsay is a New York City critical care nurse who has served on the front lines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials and is a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for healthcare workers.

John McCain. McCain (d. 2018) was an officer awarded a Purple Heart with a gold star for service with the US Navy in Vietnam. He also served the people of Arizona for decades in the US House of Representatives and US Senate and was the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.

Diana Nash. As a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Nash organized some of the most important civil rights campaigns of the 20th century and worked with King.

Alan Simpson. The retired US Senator from Wyoming served with Biden and was a prominent advocate for campaign finance reform, good governance and marriage equality.

Richard Trumka. Trumka had served as president of the 12.5 million-member AFL-CIO for more than a decade at the time of his death in August 2021. He was past President of the United Mine Workers.

Wilma Vaught. As a Brigadier General, Vaught is one of the most decorated women in US military history, breaking gender barriers as she rises through the ranks. When Vaught retired in 1985, she was one of only seven female generals in the armed forces.

Denzel Washington. Washington is an actor, director, and producer who has won two Academy Awards, a Tony Award, two Golden Globes, and the 2016 Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award. He has also been the national spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years.

Raul Yzaguirre. A civil rights activist, Yzaguirre served as President and CEO of the La Raza National Council for 30 years. Under Obama, he served as US Ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Megan Rapinoe to receive Presidential Medal of Freedom

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