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 Home > News & Policies > July 2003

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
July 18, 2003

Statement on Presidential Medal of Freedom

At a ceremony to be held at the White House on July 23, 2003, the President will award the Nation's highest civil honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to the following individuals:

Jacques Barzun is a former Columbia University professor and dean, and author and scholar of modern European thought and culture. His critically acclaimed books include Race, A Study in Modern Superstition; Marx, Darwin, Wagner: Critique of a Heritage; and the more recent From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life: 1500 to the Present.

Julia Child is a master chef, television pioneer, and author who changed the way many Americans cook. From her cookbooks to her numerous television series, she has delighted and educated amateur and professional chefs around the world.

Roberto Clemente Walker's Hall of Fame baseball career took him from Puerto Rico to the Pittsburgh Pirates. His lifetime batting average was .371 with 240 home runs and 1,305 RBI's. He was also committed to helping the less fortunate. His career was cut tragically short by an accident as he was delivering emergency relief to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.

Van Cliburn, at the age of 23, won the first Tchaikovsky International Piano Competition held in 1958 in Moscow, just months after the Sputnik launch. Throughout his long career as a concert pianist, he has entertained audiences around the world with his talents and continues to inspire young artists to achieve excellence.

Václav Havel's acclaimed plays about the oppressive Communist rule of his native Czechoslovakia caused him to be imprisoned numerous times. He persevered as a strong voice for freedom of his homeland and a voice throughout the world for democracy. Havel became president of the new Czech Republic, leading the new democratic nation until earlier this year.

Charlton Heston is an Academy Award winning actor and an eloquent, early voice on behalf of civil rights in the United States and democracy around the world. His films include The Greatest Show on Earth, El Cid, The Greatest Story Ever Told, Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Planet of the Apes, among many others.

Edward Teller left his native Hungary to escape the rise of Nazi Germany. After arriving in America, he established himself as a premier physicist. His work on national defense projects such as the Manhattan Project and the Strategic Defense Initiative helped protect our Nation and bring about the end of the Cold War.

R. David Thomas's hard work, business sense, and perseverance led him to create one of the world's largest restaurant chains. In memory of his grandmother's advice to "never cut corners," his restaurants, named after one of his daughters, became known for their square hamburger patties. A philanthropist, and having been adopted himself, Dave was a life-long advocate for adoption.

Byron Raymond White led an extraordinary American life. He was named an All-American athlete and Rhodes Scholar, earned a Bronze Star in World War II, played in the NFL and led the league in rushing, worked to defend civil rights as Deputy Attorney General, and served for 31 years as a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States.

James Q. Wilson has written influential works on the nature of human morality, government, and criminal justice issues. A noted social commentator and professor at both Harvard and UCLA, his books include Varieties of Police Behavior: The Management of Law and Order in Eight Communities, The Moral Sense, and The Marriage Problem: How Our Culture Has Weakened Families.

John R. Wooden is a record-setting college basketball coach and exceptional teacher whose UCLA Bruins won 10 National Championships in 12 years. His teams reflected his discipline, character, and work ethic. His Pyramid of Success has inspired generations.

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