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President Obama has presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to 16 actors, athletes, activists, scientists and humanitarians, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. The medal is the nation's highest civilian honor.
Kennedy's daughter, Kara, accepted the award on his behalf. The Massachusetts senator is at home on Cape Cod following the death Tuesday of his sister, Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Sen. Kennedy is also battling brain cancer.
Below is the statement from the White House on Kennedy:
For more than four decades, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has boldly fought for equal opportunity, fairness and justice for all Americans. In his tireless quest for a more perfect union, Sen. Kennedy has reformed our schools, strengthened our civil rights, helped seniors and working families, lifted up the poor, and worked to ensure that every American has access to quality and affordable health care. With volumes of laws bearing his name and countless lives touched by his extraordinary passion, Sen. Kennedy has accumulated several lifetimes' worth of achievements. The United States proudly recognizes this righteous citizen, devout public servant and giant among men.
Among the others receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom were film star Sidney Poitier, civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, tennis legend Billie Jean King, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa.
Posthumous awards went to former Republican Rep. Jack Kemp of New York and gay rights activist Harvey Milk.
Click "Listen Now" to hear President Obama's remarks on Kennedy.
This program aired on August 12, 2009.
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