Bill Clinton, one of only two presidents in history to be impeached, will be among 16 honorees to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama, the White House announced Thursday.
Mr. Clinton, who was widely condemned for having sex with a young intern during his presidency, will receive the nation’s highest civilian honor along with prominent feminist Gloria Steinem, talk-show host Oprah Winfrey, former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, country music legend Loretta Lynn and others in a ceremony later this year.
“The Presidential Medal of Freedom goes to men and women who have dedicated their own lives to enriching ours,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
“This year’s honorees have been blessed with extraordinary talent, but what sets them apart is their gift for sharing that talent with the world. It will be my honor to present them with a token of our nation’s gratitude.”
Mr. Obama said Mr. Clinton’s accomplishments, beside being the 42nd president, include having “established the Clinton Foundation to improve global health, strengthen economies, promote health and wellness, and protect the environment.”
He also formed the Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund with former President George W. Bush in 2010.
In June, Mr. Clinton attended a ceremony in Washington to rename the Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in the former president’s honor, the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building. The building is adjacent to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat who sponsored the legislation to name the building after Mr. Clinton, called him “a strong president.”
The medal is given to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
This year’s other recipients are former Chicago Cubs baseball player Ernie Banks; the late Sen. Daniel Inouye of Hawaii; psychology pioneer Daniel Kahneman; former Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana; environmental scientist Mario Molina; the late astronaut Sally Ride, the first U.S. woman in space; the late civil-rights activist Bayard Rustin; jazz trumpeter and composer Arturo Sandoval; former University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith; minister and civil-rights figure Cordy Tindell “C.T.” Vivian; former federal judge Patricia Wald