When Aung San Suu Kyi is recognized by Congress next week, she will take her place among a select group of Congressional Gold Medal recipients that includes George Washington, Mother Theresa, Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr.
To receive one of the medals, which the Clerk of the House's website describes as Congress' "highest expression of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions," requires a rare feat these days: getting 290 House and 67 Senate co-sponsors.
Suu Kyi, the leader of Myanmar's primary opposition party, the National League for Democracy, was awarded the medal in May 2008. But she has been indisposed as of late - for the better part of two decades, actually - as the country's military leadership kept her under house arrest for years at a time, from 1989 to 1995, 2000 to 2002 and from May 2003 to November 2010, according to the CIA's World Factbook.
Now, as the country begins instituting reforms and holding elections, Suu Kyi, whose party first won a landslide victory in the 1990 elections, is free to move about the globe. And she has been doing just that, speaking to world audiences about her country and traveling to Oslo in June to deliver her long-delayed Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. She was awarded the prize in 1991.
Her time in the Capitol Rotunda comes Wednesday, when Congressional leaders and other dignitaries will present her with the Gold Medal.
A Look Inside
Suu Kyi's first trip to the United States in more than 20 years will also coincide with the release in Washington, D.C., of a documentary film that shows the challenges she faced in attempting to keep the democratic flame alive in a country that has mostly lurched through military junta and strongman rule since the end of World War II.
Robert Lieberman, a physics professor at Cornell University, novelist and filmmaker, traveled to Myanmar over a two-year period and clandestinely videotaped his time there, revealing a portrait of a country long closed off to outsiders by repressive strictures on the press, politicians, the arts and almost every other means of learning about a place.
The result, "They Call it Myanmar: Lifting the Curtain," combines the most compelling guerilla-style techniques of cinema verite with a tapestry-like presentation of daily life in the country.
"Here was the original plan: This is not journalism. I wanted to take you into the country and put a human face on it. How people eat, live, sleep, eat," Lieberman said in an interview with Roll Call.