Tag Archives: Presidential Medal of Freedom

Presidential Medal of Freedom … to these guys?


By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Others have weighed in already, but I have to throw my rhetorical pittance into the mix.

Donald Trump has decided to cheapen the Presidential Medal of Freedom — this great nation’s highest civilian honor — by draping it around the necks of two of his most ardent political allies/hacks.

Yep, U.S. Reps. Jim Jordan and Devin Nunes will be handed the same honor that historically has gone to individuals who contribute to the national security and the cultural and social life of the nation.

What in the world have Jordan and Nunes done? Well, they have been two of Trump’s most ardent political allies. They have led the charge against allegations that got Trump impeached by the House of Representatives. Nunes cooked up bogus intelligence reports about Trump’s Russia connections. Jordan badgered witnesses mercilessly … and has been accused of looking the other way while athletes under his charge as an assistant wrestling coach at Ohio State University were being sexually assaulted.

This is Donald Trump’s modus operandi. He honors those who are loyal to him. That’s what matters to this individual.

Ready for return of presidential symbolism

By JOHN KANELIS / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

You can take this little item to the bank and remember that you saw it here for the first time.

President Biden will have a full plate of crises to confront when he settles in behind the Resolute Desk. He also must find time to engage in some of symbolism involved with the high office of president of the United States. Part of that involves conducting ceremonies; you know, the kind that honor Americans for the work they do on our behalf.

The nation’s highest civilian honor is called the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In the waning days of his time as vice president, Biden received the medal in a surprise ceremony at the White House. President Barack Obama stunned him during an event aimed ostensibly to honor the work that Biden had done as VP during the Obama administration.

Can there be a more fitting recipient for the Presidential Medal of Freedom than Barack Hussein Obama? And can there be a more fitting person to drape the medal around the former president’s neck than the current president, who after Jan. 20 will be Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.?

Obama has been vilified and ridiculed unjustly for the past four years by his immediate successor. I am one American patriot who would find it most appropriate for him to receive the nation’s highest civilian award to honor the work he did as a successful two-term president of the United States.

Just remember … you saw it here first.

Why not honor Brig. Gen. McGee instead of Daddy Dittohead?

This isn’t an original thought that comes exclusively from this blog, but I’ll offer it anyway.

If Donald John Trump was so intent Tuesday night on handing out a Presidential Medal of Freedom, why didn’t he award one to the 100-year-old Tuskegee Airman, Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, who was in the VIP box listening to the president deliver the State of the Union speech?

I mean, Gen. McGee is far more worthy of the nation’s highest and most exalted civilian honor that Rush “Daddy Dittohead” Limbaugh, who received the medal in a surprise ceremony during the speech.

Yes, I am aware that Donald Trump saluted Gen. McGee for the heroic service he performed during World War II, in Korea and in Vietnam.

Gen. McGee surely deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

More on the Presidential Medal of Freedom

I feel the need to flesh out a little more about the Presidential Medal of Freedom and why I believe it should be awarded to a leading American actor and activist.

The medal, bestowed by the president of the United States, goes to those individuals have delivered “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

I already have made a pitch for Gary Sinise, an actor of considerable note, as well as a fervent activist for military veterans and active-duty personnel. Sinise hasn’t yet been awarded with the nation’s highest civilian honor. He deserves it … in spades!

Sinise has become veterans’ most outspoken and visible champion. He embodies the sea change that has swept over the country in the past quarter-century or so, or about the time that our troops swept Iraqi forces out of Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War.

Do you remember how veterans were treated after the Vietnam War? I do. I was one of them. I didn’t get spit on. Or cursed. I did receive an indifferent response from those who learned I had served for a time in Vietnam.

That all changed about the time of the Gulf War.

Gary Sinise has become a visible and outspoken advocate for veterans over the course of many years. He has raised money for families of veterans, helped raise awareness of PTSD and other combat-related disorders. He has lent his good name to fundraisers. He has hosted public TV broadcasts of patriotic salutes.

My goodness, this man has contributed greatly to the cultural development of this great country, as explained in the Medal of Freedom criteria listed at the top of this blog post.

My message now goes directly to Donald Trump: Mr. President, if you can see fit to honor a professional golfer who won the Masters tournament — which you did when you hung the Medal of Freedom around Tiger Woods’ neck — surely you can do the same for an artist who has made veterans awareness part of his life.

Just wondering: Why not Medal of Freedom for Gary Sinise?

A cousin of mine posed the question on social media. He is in the Army. He’s been serving our country for more than a decade.

He wonders why Gary Sinise, the actor and avid champion of veterans’ rights, hasn’t yet been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Indeed, my family member poses an excellent question.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor. It has gone to many worthy recipients. It also has been bestowed to many who, um, haven’t done nearly the kind of work that Sinise has done for many years.

Sinise portrayed a troubled Vietnam War veteran in the acclaimed film “Forrest Gump.” Since before that film’s release and surely after it came out, Sinise has been an outspoken advocate for veterans. He has argued on behalf of vets suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder as well as those with debilitating physical wounds suffered in combat. He has raised money to benefit the families of veterans.

And yet he has yet to be honored with the nation’s esteemed Presidential Medal of Freedom. Many presidents since Sinise’s veteran advocacy has become well-known and heavily reported.

As one proud veteran myself, I want to carry that torch a little farther on behalf of my cousin who’s still defending this country.

Gary Sinise has earned veterans’ ever-lasting gratitude and deserves to be honored officially with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Trump presents Medal of Freedom to Tiger, but … wait!

This is what happens when a president of the United States refuses to divest himself of his vast business interests prior to taking the nation’s most exalted public office.

Donald Trump presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Tiger Woods, honoring the greatest golfer of his generation — and perhaps of all time — for winning his fifth Masters Tournament and his 15th major professional golf championship.

Woods becomes the fourth pro golfer to be awarded in this fashion. President George W. Bush presented Presidential Medals of Freedom to a pair of golf legends, Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus; President Obama awarded one to Charlie Sifford.

No one questioned those presidents’ motives. Trump brings another element to this ceremony.

He and Woods have a business relationship. Woods has been a highly visible promoter of golf at Trump Organization properties. Some have wondered about the president’s motive in honoring Woods. Is he doing so in an altruistic fashion or is he seeking to promote his own business in association with Tiger Woods? That’s the question of the moment.

Donald Trump declined to divest himself of his business interests upon becoming president. He remains associated with the Trump Organization, although he reportedly turned over day-to-day operations to his sons, Don Jr. and Eric.

I don’t know what motivates Donald Trump, although I have my suspicions and my beliefs. I merely am left to wonder and to echo the questions that have come from many quarters about whether the president occupies his high office for the right reasons.

Now he might be sullying the reputation of a pro golfer, Tiger Woods, who deserves the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his immense contribution to our national culture.

If only the president who awarded it wasn’t so, um, compromised.

Yes, athletes deserve a Presidential Medal of Freedom

Donald J. Trump is going to award some Presidential Medals of Freedom in a few days.

Some of the recipients of the nation’s highest civilian honor will be athletes. They are athletic legends at that. I mention this because at times we hear grumbling about whether athletes deserve an honor meant to commemorate individuals’ contributions to American life and culture.

Of course they deserve such an honor.

Among the recipients of the Medal of Freedom this month will be the legendary New York Yankees slugger Babe Ruth, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach and Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page. By the way, the president also will honor the late Elvis Presley, Sen. Orrin Hatch, the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and political mega-donor and philanthropist Miriam Adelson. They’re all worthy.

Back to the athletes. The Bambino, Roger the Dodger and Page will be the 29th, 30th and 31st athletes honored in this manner. Former President Barack Obama honored 12 athletes with the Presidential Medal of Freedom; they included Michael Jordan, Stan Musial and Bill Russell. Others honored have included, oh, Muhammad Ali, Jackie Robinson, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Arthur Ashe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ted Williams.

Every one of those individuals has contributed mightily to the culture of this country. Thus, they deserve the honor bestowed on them by the president.

One of the athletes the president will honor, Alan Page, also distinguished himself in another way. After he retired from football, he went to law school, got his degree and then took his seat on the Minnesota Supreme Court. I am quite sure the president will highlight that achievement right along with the prowess he showed as a member of the Purple People Eaters defensive front line for the Vikings.

And how do you deny the worthiness of Babe Ruth, arguably the greatest athlete ever to play baseball, which many of us still consider to be the National Pastime?

Trump denigrates Bush 41, too!

Donald John Trump thinks he is operating in a free-fire zone.

Political foes are open targets for his insults. That’s a given.

But a former president? Of the current president’s own party?

The 45th president of the United States decided Thursday to denigrate the charitable program initiated by the 41st president of the United States. He told the rally crowd in Great Falls, Mont., that he didn’t understand George H.W. Bush’s “Thousand Points of Light” program, the one that called on Americans to help one another, apart from government.

“What the hell does that mean?” Trump asked.

Mr. President, it means charity. It means selflessness. It means public service in the purist sense of the term.

For this president to denigrate the work of a man — President Bush — who just buried his beloved wife of more than seven decades speaks volumes about his absolute callousness.

And I hasten to point out here that President Barack Obama honored President Bush when he awarded the 41st president the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation’s highest civilian honor — for the very work that Trump decided to disparage.

This is how you pay tribute to a great American:

Pay attention — for once in your life! — Mr. President.


How might Trump honor predecessors?

The thought occurs to me late in the day.

How might Donald J. Trump honor his two immediate predecessors? Might he feel that George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama deserve to be honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor?

It’s common for presidents to honor their predecessors in this fashion. Barack Obama honored former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Bush honored former President Ronald Reagan; Clinton honored President Carter and President Ford; Carter honored President Johnson, who honored President Kennedy, whose administration established this award.

I keep wondering whether Trump would bestow this honor to Obama and George W. Bush.

He spent years savaging President Obama, implying he was a foreign-born individual who was not qualified to serve as president; he has called President Bush’s prosecution of the Iraq War one of the nation’s most disastrous misadventure. Don’t forget that he also tore into the president’s brother, Jeb, while campaigning for the presidency in 2016.

In my view, both men deserve to be honored for their service to the country. I am merely intrigued by the notion of the current president setting aside all that fiery rhetoric to do what’s right and decent.

Yes, Americans will miss this team

Presidents and vice presidents haven’t always had the kind of relationship that Barack Obama and Joseph Biden have developed.

Lyndon Johnson famously summoned Hubert Humphrey to the White House for a conference … while LBJ was sitting on a commode; Dwight Eisenhower once responded to a question about what Richard Nixon contributed to his administration by saying: “If you give me a week, I’ll think of something”; John Nance Garner once referred to the vice presidency as being worth “a bucket of warm piss.”

To watch the current president bestow the Presidential Medal of Freedom to the current vice president is to witness a true friendship that doubled as a national governing partnership.

The president added a final “with distinction” honor to the presentation, noting that such an honor is bestowed only rarely. He noted that his three immediate predecessors honored Pope John Paul II, President Reagan and Gen. Colin Powell “with distinction.”

With that, Vice President Biden joins some heady company.

And he deserves to stand with them.

Their partnership and friendship no doubt will make me miss them once they leave the public stage.