Fifteen iconic Americans received the prestigious Medal of Freedom award today from President Barack Obama in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
|President Obama holds a Medal of Freedom award. |
One of 15 awarded in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. Photo/CD Brown.
"He would be proud and pleased", said Lewis. It's an American day. Black, white, Asian American, Latino, men, women. In different ways I think we all have made a contribution to humanity. We all have played our role in helping make America a better place."
Lewis will house his medal in Atlanta, where he has a home there, and says he will wear the medal "from time to time."
"I will put it in a well placed place."
Congressman Lewis, who marched during the Civil Rights era, said today made all the beatings he suffered during that era worth it.
Before accepting his medal, President Obama stated, "“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?” It’s a question John Lewis has been asking his entire life. It’s what led him back to the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma after he had already been beaten within an inch of his life days before. It’s why, time and again, he faced down death so that all of us could share equally in the joys of life. It’s why all these years later, he is known as the Conscience of the United States Congress, still speaking his mind on issues of justice and equality. And generations from now, when parents teach their children what is meant by courage, the story of John Lewis will come to mind; an American who knew that change could not wait for some other person or some other time; whose life is a lesson in the fierce urgency of now."
"It was worth it", Lewis told us. "It was worth all the beatings, all the sit-ins, all the indecencies. I'd do it again."
And he almost did.
During a Tea Party rally late last year after the Health Care bill was passed, Congressman Lewis was spat upon by disgruntled Tea Party members and called a racial slur, giving more credence to the adage, 'we've come a long way, but still have so very far to go.'
Congressman Lewis represents 5th District of the people of Atlanta, Georgia.
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More comments from the recipients: "In route to Washington, DC as I along with fourteen other honored Americans prepare to receive the President's Medal of Freedom tomorrow. I am so blessed and grateful to be considered for this honor. I am grateful." - Maya Angelou on her Facebook wall.