Bush Awards Six Medal of Freedom

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On Thursday, President Bush awarded six people the nation's highest civilian award -- the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The medal is traditionally given to leaders in medicine, government, the judiciary and the military.

In an East Room ceremony in the White House, Bush praised each of this year's recipients.

Click the play button to watch video from the ceremony.

They include Dr. Benjamin Carson, a pediatric neurosurgeon; Dr. Anthony Fauci, an AIDS researcher; Laurence Silberman, an appeals court judge; former Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala, the late representative Tom Lantos, the only Holocaust survivor to serve in Congress; and retired General Peter Pace, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and one of the architects of the Iraq War.

Annette Lantos accepted the award on behalf of her late husband. Bush talked about Lantos' remarks as he announced his retirement from Congress.

"His words were not of despair, but of gratitude for a nation that had given him so much," Bush said. "'Only in America could a penniless survivor of the Holocaust receive an education, raise a family and have the privilege of serving in the Congress."'

The Medal of Freedom was established by President Harry S. Truman in 1945 to recognize civilians for their patriotic efforts during the Second World War.

It was reinstated by President John F. Kennedy in 1963 to honor distinguished service.

The medal is primarily awarded to those who have made remarkable contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, culture, or other private or public endeavors.

Source:  The Associated Press

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