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The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America' highest civilian award. It recognizes exceptional meritorious service. The medal was established by President Harry Truman in 1945 to recognize notable service in the war.

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy reintroduced it as an honor for distinguished civilian service in peacetime.

During President Bill Clinton's administration, there were 87 recipients, ranging from entertainers, jurists, athletes public servants, labor leaders, civil rights activists, childrens advocates, philanthropists, conservationist,voting rights advocates, and so on.

As of September, 2001, President George W. Bush has not named any recipients but given the events of September 11, 2001, I imagine that will change in the very near future

Update: 6/4/2004 - George W. Bush has bestowed the honor of the Presidential Medal of Freedom upon Pope John Paul II. This guarantees his (the Pope's) entry into heaven...

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