Sen. Lugar, Oprah, Ernie Banks To Receive Medal of Freedom

August 08, 2013

President Barack Obama will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 people this year, including Former Sen. Richard Lugar, Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, and Oprah Winfrey.

The White House announced the list on Thursday. It's the highest honor that the U.S. bestows on civilians.

The list also includes former President Bill Clinton along with musicians, scientists, activists - even an astronaut.

Lugar represented Indiana in the Senate for 36 years. The White House announcement calls him "an internationally respected statesman ... best known for his bipartisan leadership and decades-long commitment to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons.''

It also notes he was a Rhodes Scholar and mayor of Indianapolis for eight years. He currently serves as president of the Washington-based Lugar Center.

Winfrey's career as an American broadcaster, actress and activist has spanned decades. Her Chicago-based The Oprah Winfrey Show became the highest rated talk show in America for 25 years.

She has received numerous awards throughout her career, including the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award in 2002 and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2010.

Banks hit more than 500 home runs and played 19 seasons with the Chicago Cubs.

Known as 'Mr. Cub,' he became the first National League player to win Most Valuable Player honors in back-to-back years.  Banks was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977, his first year of eligibility.

“The North Side of Chicago wouldn’t be the same without Ernie Banks.," said U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, in a statement. "A Hall of Famer in every sense of the word he won the hearts of every Cubs fan with his power hitting and Gold Glove performances on the field and endeared himself to every Chicagoan with his humble approach to the game and his lifelong commitment to our city."

Story source: AP