President Barack Obama announced Monday that Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award.
Mikulski, the longest serving woman in Congress, will be honored at a White House ceremony on Nov. 24, along with other public servants and artists who have contributed to the country. "I am honored and humbled to be recognized by President Obama with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. To the people of Maryland, I thank you," Mikulski said in a statement. "Time and again you have honored me with your confidence and trust. I’m so grateful for the opportunity you’ve given me to serve Maryland and the nation.”
The dean of Senate women announced in March she would not seek re-election in 2016.
She took to the Senate floor Monday evening following the White House announcement to thank her home state again for their support.
"In a few days I will be honored by the president of the United States," she said, "but the honor has always been to be here.”
Mikulski also recounted her journey to the political arena, which began when she organized the "Hell No, We Won't Go" committee to protest a plan to build a highway through her and other neighborhoods.
“You know what’s so great about this country? In others, they put you in jail and beat you," Mikulski said. "In this country, they sent me to city council and I beat the political bosses.”
She also paid tribute to her fellow award recipients, which include posthumous awards to Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American congresswoman, and Yogi Bera, the former New York Yankees baseball player who, Mikulski said, "shared my love of language.”
Other recipients include a number of performers and artists such as Barbra Streisand, Stephen Sondheim, Steven Spielberg, James Taylor, and Emilio and Gloria Estefan.
Last year, the dean of the House, former Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., received the medal of freedom . He is the longest serving member of the House of Representatives.
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