- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2003

Agence France-Presse

President Bush yesterday awarded America’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, to several recipients including Charlton Heston and former Czech president Vaclav Havel.

Mr. Heston, known for his acting roles as Moses and Ben Hur among others, served in recent years as president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun-rights lobbying group.

Mr. Heston stepped down as NRA president in April.

Mr. Havel, a writer and dissident who was imprisoned by Czechoslovakia’s Communist government, rose to become president of his country following the peaceful “Velvet Revolution” uprising in 1989. He stepped down at the end of his second term as president in February.

Among other personalities decorated by Mr. Bush yesterday were physicist Edward Teller, father of the hydrogen bomb; Texas pianist Van Cliburn and celebrity television chef Julia Child.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom recognizes the exceptional services of nonmilitary achievers.

Established by President Truman in 1945 to acknowledge the services of exceptional civilians during World War II, it was expanded by President Kennedy in 1963 to recognize exceptional peacetime civil service.


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