Father Alexander Karloutsos, head of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of the Hamptons, and Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at Northwell Health’s Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, were among 17 people who President Joe Biden on Thursday presented the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Medal of Freedom Ceremony
The honors were awarded during a ceremony at the White House, where the president shared why each recipient was chosen. Biden described Father Alex, who has counseled several U.S. presidents and is assistant to Archbishop Demetrios of America, as “one of my dear friends.” Lindsay, a prominent advocate for vaccines and mental health for health care workers, was previously honored by Biden and served as grand marshal of the Manhattan parade celebrating the work of front-line healthcare heroes in responding to the pandemic.
The 17 people receiving honors “have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities, and across the world, while blazing trails for generations to come,” the White House said.
It was the first time Biden had awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. His recipient list included both living and deceased honorees, some of them representing various stages of the president’s life, from the Catholic nuns who taught him as a boy growing up in Claymont, Delaware, to Republican lawmakers he served with in the Senate to a college professor like his wife, Jill, to advocates of tightening access to firearms.
“I take special pride in the bestowal of this honor upon Father Alex, and am delighted that he is now receiving national and international recognition,” said Dr. Anthony J. Limberakis, Commander of the Order of Saint Andrew, Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Biden noted that Lindsay’s vaccination card, hospital scrubs and badge are part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibit on COVID-19.
“Sandra, as I told you before, if there are any angels in heaven, they are all nurses,” he said.
“I am beyond thankful to President Biden for recognizing that momentous day and my continued efforts to end vaccine hesitancy and promote health care for everyone, no matter where you live, who you are, or the color of your skin,” Lindsay said.
Other 2022 Medal of Freedom Recipients
The recipients included two-time Academy Award winning actor Denzel Washington, who has served as spokesman for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for over 25 years, the late Apple founder Steve Jobs and Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast in history, with a combined total of 32 Olympic and World Championship medals.
The other dozen recipients include gun safety advocate and former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, former U.S. Sen. Alan Simpson, civil rights advocate and diplomat Raúl Yzaguirre, Olympic gold medalist and two-time Women’s World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, former president of The University of Texas at Brownsville Dr. Julieta García, founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center and Gold Star father Khizr Khanis, Brigadier General Wilma Vaughtis, who is one of the most decorated women in the history of the U.S. military, Diane Nash, who is a founding member of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, former Executive Director of NETWORK Sister Simone Campbell, and Fred Gray, who was one of the first Black members of the Alabama State legislature since Reconstruction.
Those being awarded posthumously are late former U.S. Sen. John McCain and late Richard Trumka, the former president of the 12.5-million-member AFL-CIO.
-With Associated Press