An influential Hamptons priest and a Long Island nurse who received the first COVID-19 vaccine in the nation outside of clinical trials are among 17 Americans set to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The White House released Friday the names of the honorees who President Joe Biden will award the nation’s highest civilian honor, including 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.
“These 17 Americans demonstrate the power of possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith,” the White House said in a statement. “They 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 medals are presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors. The 17 recipients include 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.
Karloutsos is the former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. After over 50 years as a priest, providing counsel to several U.S. presidents, he was named by His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew as a Protopresbyter of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
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 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.
Besides Jobs, 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.
The awards will be presented at the White House on July 7.