The award is the nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to “individuals who have made 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.” Typically the honorees include a mixture of living and posthumous honorees. This will be Trump’s first Medal of Freedom ceremony since taking office.
The White House, in announcing Presley, noted that he “defined American culture to billions of adoring fans around the world. Elvis fused gospel, country, and rhythm and blues to create a sound all his own, selling more than a billion records. Elvis also served nearly 2 years in the United States Army, humbly accepting the call to serve despite his fame.”
Other honorees include Miriam Adelson, a doctor and philanthropist, who “has practiced internal and emergency medicine, studied and specialized in the disease of narcotic addiction, and founded two research centers committed to fighting substance abuse,” according to the White House. She is the wife of Republican super donor Sheldon Adelson. Also being honored: Orrin Hatch, who has represented Utah in the Senate for 41 years; Alan Page, a former professional football player who is a judge on the Minnesota Supreme Court; baseball legend Babe Ruth; Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; and Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach.
The Medal of Freedom honorees typically includes a number of entertainment, media and arts figures. The last Medal of Freedom ceremony took place on Nov. 22, 2016, when President Barack Obama honored 21 individuals including Robert De Niro, Diana Ross, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Lorne Michaels, Newton Minow, Robert Redford, Vin Scully, Bruce Springsteen and Cicely Tyson.