Denzel Washington did not attend President Joe Biden’s medal of freedom ceremony on Thursday after he was chosen by the president to receive the nation’s highest civilian honor. Washington was included in the group of award winners with Soccer star Megan Rapinoe and Gymnast Simone Biles.
Washington did not appear at Thursday’s White House ceremony because of a positive COVID-19 result, according to a White House official. President Biden said during the ceremony that the actor wanted to be there and will receive the award at a later date.
“There’s a man who couldn’t be here today but wanted to be: Denzel Washington, one of our greatest actors in American history. Academy Awards, Golden Globes, Tony Awards, (and) wide acclaim from audiences and peers around the world,” the President said. “He couldn’t be here with us today, but I’ll be giving him this award at a later date when he’s able to get here.”
A White House press release prior to the ceremony said, “the honor will be presented to individuals who have made exemplary contributions to the prosperity, values, or security of the United States, world peace, or other significant societal, public or private endeavors. President Biden has long said that America can be defined by one word: possibilities and embody the soul of the nation – hard work, perseverance, and faith.”
“They have overcome significant obstacles to achieve impressive accomplishments in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted with bravery to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while blazing trails for generations to come,” the statement said.
Another winner of the award is Sandra Lindsay, a New York nurse who the White House says was the first American to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside of clinical trials.
Biden awarded the Medal of Freedom to several posthumous honorees, including Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Biden spoke about his connection with McCain at the event “We agreed on a lot more than we disagreed on,” Biden reminisced Thursday.
“I never stopped admiring John,” Biden continued. “I never said a negative thing about him in my life because I knew his honor, his courage and his commitment. That was John McCain.”
Cindy McCain was on stage to accept the award on behalf of her late husband.
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