President Donald Trump announced that casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s wife, Miriam Adelson, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The Medal of Freedom is awarded to those who make an “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” It is the highest honor available to US civilians.
Adelson, an Israeli-American physician, scientist, and philanthropist, joins six others who will receive their medals from Trump at a ceremony at the White House on Friday.
Not surprisingly, the living recipients were all big Trump supporters, and the deceased seem to be All-American icons.
The Adelsons have long been one of the biggest GOP donors, and reportedly contributed roughly $113 million to 2018 midterm campaign efforts.
Retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is another recipient who has certainly been one of the President’s greatest cheerleaders in Washington DC. He will be honored along with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who has become something of a conservative hero on par with Ronald Reagan.
Non-political recipients in 2018 include former NFL stars Roger Staubach and Alan Page, baseball legend Babe Ruth, and music icon Elvis Presley.
Is She Deserving?
The Adelsons were among a group of major GOP donors who watched Tuesday-night election returns with Trump at the White House
Many poker players likely scoff at her receiving such a high honor, and they are not alone as many others who could care less about Miriam Adelson’s relationship to the biggest enemy of online poker. And certainly most Democrats will disagree because, well, they don’t like anything Trump does.
But Adelson, 73, has done more in her life than support her husband’s fight against online poker. She founded drug abuse treatment clinics in Israel and Las Vegas. While many just stamp their name on a substance abuse facility for publicity, she is known to be hands-on with patients.
In 2007, she was awarded an honorary doctorate at Tel Aviv University for her vocal support of Israel.
About Presidential Medal of Freedom
A sitting president has been able to bestow the honor on any number of recipients since 1963. The recently selected honorees are the first chosen by President Trump.
Barack Obama handed out more medals than any other president (123), surpassing Ronald Reagan (102). While Trump appears to have given a hat tip to his base this year, Obama did the same during his tenure in the White House.
Obama awarded many Hollywood celebrities such as Tom Hanks and Ellen DeGeneres who helped shape his vision for America. He surprised his vice president, Joe Biden, with the award in 2016, his final year in office.
Obama was also just the fifth president to award a past president with the Presidential Medal of Honor. In 2011, he honored George H.W. Bush and two years later selected Bill Clinton.
Notable Past Presidential Medal of Freedom Recipients (awarding president in parenthesis)
John F. Kennedy 1963 (Lyndon B. Johnson)
Dick Cheney 1991 (George H.W. Bush)
Martin Luther King Jr. 1977 (Jimmy Carter)
Hellen Keller 1964 (Lyndon B. Johnson)
Bill Gates 2016 (Barack Obama)
General H. Norman Schwarzkopf 1991 (George H.W. Bush)
Oprah Winfrey 2013 (Barack Obama)
Fred “Mr.” Rogers 2001 (George W. Bush)
Frank Sinatra 1985 (Ronald Reagan)
John Wayne 1980 (Jimmy Carter)
Joe Dimaggio 1977 (Gerald Ford)
Jackie Robinson 1984 (Ronald Reagan)
Muhammad Ali 2005 (George W. Bush)