Politics Simone Biles, Megan Rapinoe and More Receive Presidential Medals of Freedom: See the Photos The list of 2022 honorees included athletes, actors and activists; they received their medals at the White House on July 7 By Kate Hogan Published on July 7, 2022 04:49 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Trending Videos 01 of 15 Simone Biles SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty On July 1, President Joe Biden announced the 17 recipients of the 2022 Presidential Medal of Freedom, and on July 7, Biden — an honoree himself, named by President Barack Obama — presented several of this year's luminaries with their awards at the White House in Washington, D.C. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor. Olympic gymnastics icon Simone Biles sported a huge smile while receiving her medal, as fiancé Jonathan Owens cheered from the front row of the crowd. Biles was honored not only for her athletic prowess but her advocacy for athletes' "mental health and safety, children in the foster care system and victims of sexual assault," according to the White House. 02 of 15 Gabrielle Giffords SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Giffords was elected to the House of Representatives in 2006, representing Arizona; in 2011, she was shot in the head during an event in her home state. Biden honored her for both her political career and her founding of Giffords, a non-profit that works for gun violence prevention. 03 of 15 Sister Simone Campbell Alex Wong/Getty Campbell has dedicated much of her life to social justice, serving as executive director of NETWORK and helping champion the Affordable Care Act. 04 of 15 Fred Gray Alex Wong/Getty Gray, a lawyer and politician, was one of the first Black members of the Alabama State legislature since Reconstruction. According to the White House, he represented Rosa Parks, the NAACP and Martin Luther King Jr. over the course of his career. 05 of 15 Dr. Julieta García SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty García is the former present of the University of Texas at Brownsville, the first Hispanic woman to work as a college president. 06 of 15 Sandra Lindsay Alex Wong/Getty The first American to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine, Lindsay, a nurse, served on the front lines of the pandemic response in New York City. 07 of 15 John McCain SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty The late senator and war veteran, a friend and colleague of Biden, was one of the day's posthumous honorees. His widow, Cindy McCain, accepted his medal with tears in her eyes. 08 of 15 Megan Rapinoe Alex Wong/Getty The women's soccer star was honored for her on-field leadership and advocacy work for gender pay equality, LGBTQ+ rights and racial justice. She wore a suit that paid tribute to WNBA star Brittney Griner, who is currently being held in Russia on drug charges. 09 of 15 Wilma Vaught SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty The Brigadier General is one of the most decorated women in the U.S. military; according to the White House, when she retired, she was one of just seven female generals in the Armed Forces. 10 of 15 Father Alexander Karloutsos Alex Wong/Getty Karloutsos is former Vicar General of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and spent 50 years as a priest, earning the highest of honors within his own organization in 1994. 11 of 15 Alan Simpson SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty During his 18 years as a U.S. Senator from Wyoming, Simpson pushed for campaign finance reform and marriage equality, according to the White House. "He's a great hugger," Simpson joked to the crowd after exchanging an embrace with Biden. 12 of 15 Steve Jobs SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty The Apple founder was another of the day's posthumous honorees; his widow Laurene Powell Jobs accepted his medal. 13 of 15 Khizr Khan Alex Wong/Getty A Gold Star father, Khan founded the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Center, often speaking out on religious freedom. Under Biden, he served on the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom. 14 of 15 Raúl Yzaguirre Susan Walsh/AP/Shutterstock The U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic under President Obama, Yzaguirre is also a civil rights advocate and served as president of National Council of La Raza. 15 of 15 Diane Nash Alex Wong/Getty Nash is a founding member of the civil rights organization Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. during her career. The honorees who were not in attendance included the late Richard Trumka, former president of the AFL-CIO and United Mine Workers, and actor and Boys & Girls Club spokesman Denzel Washington, who tested positive for COVID-19 this week.