President Donna E. Shalala is now one of 400 others in the world to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Established in 1945 by President Truman, the medal is the nation’s highest civilian award and recognizes “exceptional meritorious service.”
“I am deeply honored by this special recognition. Both as an educator and a public servant, I have always considered it a duty and a privilege to serve my country and to promote the rights and responsibilities of being an engaged citizen of a free nation,” Shalala said in a press conference.
A White House ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 19 where President George W. Bush will honor those chosen.
Shalala became the longest serving U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. She served for eight years, from 1993 to 2001. Then in 2007, President Bush appointed her to co-chair with Senator Bob Dole the Commission on Care for Returning Wounded Warriors. As a chair person, she assessed wounded service member’s transitions from active duty to civilian society.
In June 2001, Shalala became Professor of Political Science and President of the University of Miami. She has more than 25 years of experience as an accomplished scholar, teacher and administrator.
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