Updated 12:15 a.m. | Rep. John D. Dingell, D-Mich., the longest serving member of the House of Representatives, will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony on Nov. 24.
The White House announced the award Monday evening, along with the 18 other recipients, including Tom Browkaw, Meryl Streep, Stevie Wonder, Ethel Kennedy and the late Rep. Edward R. Roybal, D-Calif., whose daughter, Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, D-Calif., currently serves in Congress.
Dingell released a statement after the White House announced he would receive the esteemed award.
“There are few words that could accurately describe my thoughts and feelings in receiving this wonderful honor," said Dingell. "It is especially meaningful to me to receive this recognition alongside such a distinguished and diverse group of individuals that truly represents the ideals and values that have made this nation great. I am most humbled by this recognition, and I thank President Obama for his kindness in awarding me this prestigious honor.”
The Detroit News first reported the news of Dingell's award Monday and Rep. Sander M. Levin, D-Mich., issued a statement congratulating the longtime congressman.
“Few Americans have left a more lasting imprint on the U.S. Congress and the laws of our nation than John Dingell,” said Levin. “Whether it was his role in health care reform, the auto industry or protecting the environment, during his six decades in Congress John Dingell has led through both tenacity and humor.”
Dingell has served in the House since 1955 and during his tenure, he worked on landmark legislation including the Civil Rights Act. He is retiring at the end of the 113th Congress and his wife, Rep.-elect Debbie Dingell, will succeed him in the House.
The medal is the highest honor awarded to a civilian and, according to the White House website, is awarded to “individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”
Last year’s recipients included President Bill Clinton, Washington Post Editor Ben Bradlee, Oprah Winfrey, former Sen. Richard G. Lugar of Indiana and the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii.
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