POET MAYA ANGELOU was among a select group of distinguished Americans to whom President Barack Obama presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom on 15 February 2011.
THE WASHINGTON POST REPORTS:
By Perry Bacon Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 15, 2011; 2:53 PM
President Obama spent nearly every day for two years blasting his son on the campaign trail. But Obama has long praised former President George H.W. Bush, particularly for his foreign policy decisions, and on Tuesday, he presented the 41st president with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
Bush was one of 15 who received the award, including NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell, cellist Yo-Yo Ma and billionaire investor Warren Buffett. (Buffett is a member of the Washington Post Co. board.)
“We honor George Herbert Walker Bush for service to America that spanned nearly 70 years,” Obama said of the first President Bush in brief remarks. He praised for him a “steady diplomatic hand” that helped in “ending the Cold War without firing a shot.”
The award, the highest honor from the U.S. government that any person can receive unless they serve in the military, is given to individuals with “especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the White House.
The medal was created by President Harry S. Truman, originally to honor civilian service in World War II. Past recipients have included former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden…. It has become a kind of presidential honor society, as chief executives present the award to people whom they admire or who support their goals. President George W. Bush gave medals in 2004 to Gen. Tommy Franks, who oversaw the invasion of Iraq, and former Iraq administrator L. Paul Bremer.
In 2009, Obama presented it to 16 people, including former U.S. Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor and actor Sidney Poitier.
Among the other recipients on Tuesday were German Chancellor Angela Merkel (who could not attend); Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was a key leader in the civil rights movement; poet Maya Angelou; Hall of Fame St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial; and John Sweeney, the former head of the AFL-CIO.
In a message of congratulations to Dr Maya Angelou, CAMERON DUODU said:
It is particularly apt that you, MAYA, should receive this immensely treasured award from the First Black President of the United States, Barack Obama. I remember how you and a group of African-Americans, forced to leave your country for fighting for the freedom of its Black citizens, used to agonise over the future of the USA in Accra, Ghana. I and other Ghanaians empathised with you, but we could hardly console you, given the enormity of the task that confronted you. I remember how you brought us Brother Malcolm X to give us a deeper understanding of the racial situation in the United States. On behalf of those who are no longer with us to share your joy: JULIAN AND ANALIVIA MAYFIELD, AND SHIRLEY DUBOIS, IN PARTICULAR, I say “AYIKOO!” (Congratulations!) to you, Maya.
THEY WILL BE RAISING A GLASS TO YOU TONIGHT.
I SAY AGAIN: “AYIKOO!” MAY THE GOOD LORD BLESS YOU WITH MORE YEARS AND MORE ACHIEVEMENTS.