Today President Obama announced 2009's recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. It is the coolest 16-person list ever.
Billie Jean King, Sidney Poitier, Chita Rivera, Muhammad Yunus, Harvey Milk, Desmond Tutu, and this guy:
Joe Medicine Crow joined the army, becoming a scout in the 103rd Infantry Division (United States). Whenever he went into battle, he wore his war paint beneath his uniform and a sacred eagle feather beneath his helmet. Without realizing it, Medicine Crow completed all four task required to become a war chief. He touched a living enemy soldier (1) and disarmed an enemy (2) when he turned a corner and found himself face to face with a young German soldier:“The collision knocked the German's weapon to the ground. Mr. Crow lowered his own weapon and the two fought hand-to-hand. In the end Mr. Crow got the best of the German, grabbing him by the neck and choking him. He was going to kill the German soldier on the spot when the man screamed out "momma." Mr. Crow then let him go.”
He also led a successful war party (3) and stole an enemy horse (4), making a midnight raid to steal the horses from a battalion of German officers (as he rode off, he sang a traditional Crow honor song.) He is the last member of the Crow tribe to become a war chief. Of his story, noted documentarian Ken Burns said, "The story of Joseph Medicine Crow is something I've wanted to tell for 20 years." Mr. Crow was interviewed and appeared in the 2007 Ken Burns PBS series The War, describing his World War II service.
He stole horses from the SS. Top that, George Tenet.
The President announced today the 16 recipients of the 2009 Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilan honor. The President praised the recipients for breaking down barriers and lifting up their fellow citizens: "These outstanding men and women represent an incredible diversity of backgrounds. Their tremendous accomplishments span fields from science to sports, from fine arts to foreign affairs. Yet they share one overarching trait: Each has been an agent of change. Each saw an imperfect world and set about improving it, often overcoming great obstacles along the way."
The awards will be presented on August 12.
Read details about all the recipients here.