Congressman John Lewis Receives Presidential Medal of Freedom
By Larry Hartstein
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta is one of 15 people who will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award, at a 1:30 p.m. White House ceremony today.
The 2010 honorees include former President George H.W. Bush, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, poet Maya Angelou, billionaire investor Warren Buffett, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and sports legends Stan Musial and Bill Russell. The medal is given to individuals who make an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.
Lewis said President Barack Obama told him he was being honored as a leader of the civil rights movement. The Democratic congressman led the student civil rights movement in the 1960s.
"I never dreamed of anything like this," Lewis, the son of Alabama sharecroppers who is serving his 13th term in Congress, told the AJC. "I'm deeply touched and moved at just the thought of it."
The ceremony, to be held in the East Room of the White House, can be seen live at http://www.whitehouse.gov/.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery of Atlanta was among the 2009 award recipients.