- The Washington Times - Friday, December 15, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

President Bush yesterday awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to a blues guitarist, a baseball star, a scientist and several writers and educators.

The medal is the nation’s highest civilian honor, recognizing achievement in public service, science, the arts, education, athletics and other fields. Mr. Bush said the recipients were “exceptional individuals who have gained great admiration and respect throughout our country.”

They are:

• Ruth Johnson Colvin. The literacy advocate has traveled the world to help people learn reading and language skills.

• Norman C. Francis. The president of Xavier University of Louisiana for nearly 40 years, he has also played a lead role in helping the people of the Gulf Coast recover from Hurricane Katrina.

• Paul Johnson. The historian and journalist was honored for writings that have “captivated and educated people around the world.”

• B.B. King. The singer and guitarist is considered the King of Blues and an American legend.

• Joshua Lederberg. The Nobel Prize winner for his work in bacterial genetics had also helped develop advanced computer technology, worked with NASA in the search for life on Mars and was a scientific adviser to national policy-makers.

• David McCullough. The author and historian is considered a foremost specialist on the American presidency.

• Norman Y. Mineta. The former transportation secretary, appointed to that job by Mr. Bush, became the longest-serving person in the position. He also served as a mayor, a congressman and as President Clinton’s commerce secretary.

• John “Buck” O’Neil. The former professional baseball player in the Negro Leagues was the first black coach in Major League Baseball and co-founder of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum. He died earlier this year.

• William Safire. The writer and commentator was honored for polishing the nation’s language and elevating the debates of the day.

• Natan Sharansky. The former prisoner of the Soviet regime, punished at the time for advancing religious liberty and human rights, has continued to champion freedom. He had previously been invited to the White House by Mr. Bush to discuss his book, “The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror.”

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