President Donald Trump will award the nation’s highest civilian honour to an eclectic group including living political allies and long-dead American icons.
The group of seven recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom includes legendary singer and actor Elvis Presley and all-time baseball great Babe Ruth, the White House said on Saturday.
It also features political figures with close ties to the president. Miriam Adelson, the wife of Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, will be awarded for her efforts to fight substance abuse and philanthropic support for medical research. Senator Orrin Hatch, 84, the Utah Republican retiring at the end of this congressional term after serving since 1977, will also receive the award. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died unexpectedly in 2016, will be posthumously honoured.
Two NFL greats will be honoured: Hall-of-Fame Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, 76, and nine-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Alan Page, 73, who went on to become a justice on the Minnesota Supreme Court after playing for the Minnesota Vikings and the Chicago Bears.
Honorees are typically named annually; the current class will be the first recipients of the awards under Trump.
The award was established by President John F. Kennedy to honour those who contributed significantly to American culture or the national interest through public or private actions. President Barack Obama awarded a record 123 medals, including to two Supreme Court justices, numerous athletes, and recording artists like Bruce Springsteen and Stevie Wonder.