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President Donald Trump has selected the late Elvis Presley as one of this year’s recipients for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the White House announced Saturday.
“Elvis Presley defined American culture to billions of adoring fans around the world,” a statement from the White House read. “Elvis fused gospel, country, and rhythm and blues to create a sound all his own, selling more than a billion records. Elvis also served nearly 2 years in the United States Army, humbly accepting the call to serve despite his fame. He later starred in 31 films, drew record-breaking audiences to his shows, sent television ratings soaring, and earned 14 GRAMMY Award nominations. He ultimately won 3 GRAMMY Awards for his gospel music. Elvis Presley remains an enduring American icon 4 decades after his death.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom is recognized as the nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to those whom the president believes made a “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.”
In addition to Presley, other recipients will include legendary baseball player Babe Ruth, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach, Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan C. Page, Sen. Orrin G. Hatch and committed doctor and humanitarian Miriam Adelson.
Trump will award the Presidential Medals of Freedom on Friday. It will mark his first time bestowing a Medal of Freedom as acting president.
During Barack Obama’s presidency, Medals of Freedom were awarded to such stars as Ellen DeGeneres, Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder, Tom Hanks, Diana Ross, Bruce Springsteen, Cicely Tyson, Gloria Estefan, Steven Spielberg and Barbra Streisand.
The White House’s announcement arrived on the same day President Trump received backlash for threatening to withhold federal funding to California after placing blame on “poor” forest management for sparking the growing wildfires that have destroyed 70,000 acres and have caused evacuations throughout Northern and Southern California.
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