Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hawking Was Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

A ceremony of handing the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U. S. President, Barack Obama, to its recipients was performed on August 12, 2009. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is America's highest medal awarded to civilians in the world. In Japan, they broadcast this news on NHK TV, but highlighted only one of the recipients, Dr. Joseph Medicine Crow.

Dr. Crow, 95 years old, is the last living Plains Indian war chief, and author of works on Native American history and culture who has served as an inspiration to young Native Americans across the country [1]. Surely, the choice of him is symbolic of Obama's attitude to value the diversity of society. Regrettably, however, I could not learn from the broadcast that Stephen Hawking was also among 16 recipients. I learned it later from other news sources [2, 3].

Hawking is an internationally-recognized theoretical physicist who has a severe physical disability due to motor neuron disease (for more details, see his Web site [4]). In addition to his pioneering academic research in mathematics and physics, his citation [5] refers to the fact that he penned three popular science books, including the bestselling A Brief History of Time. It also mentions about his publication of a children’s science book with his daughter as well as his unlocking new pathways to discovery and inspiring everyday citizens.
  1. K. Brandon, "2009 Medal of Freedom Recipients," The Briefing Room Blog of the White House (July 30, 2009).
  2. H. Johnston, "Hawking hits the headlines in the US…," blog (August 13, 2009).
  3. G. P. Collins, "Stephen Hawking receives Presidential Medal of Freedom," scientificamerican blog (August 14, 2009).
  4. "Professor Stephen Hawking."
  5. "President Obama Names Medal of Freedom Recipients: 16 Agents of Change to Receive Top Civilian Honor," The Briefing Room of the White House (July 30, 2009).

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