I am a complex woman with quite a variety of interests. I love a true story which can be in a book or movie form (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/07/for-true-story-part-i-plays.html), historical figures, and memoirs of people I admire, just to name a few. But within all of these lies another love of mine- the law. Give me an article about the law or politics any day and I am happy girl. It’s part of why I love reading the New York Times, Huffington Post, and The Hill on a daily basis.
I went to the same high school as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg a.k.a. Notorious RBG. My interest was nurtured there in a courtroom she donated (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2014/10/for-notorious-rbg-justice-ruth-bader.html). Ever since I have always been a fan of hers but also the Supreme Court which I was able to visit during a trip to Washington, D.C. in 2010.
It is within this realm that I found the topic for this week’s edition of Find Out Fridays. I was roaming around the internet the other morning checking out the news from D.C. when I stumbled onto a site for Congress.
From the Congressional policy sites I found Patriots Point mentioned several times. I had never heard of that before. It turns out that Patriots Point is in Charleston, South Carolina, and is the location of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Museum. I was curious especially because I have a real interest in visiting Charleston, South Carolina in the near future. Hopefully you will be reading a review of that historic site and city early next year.
While I was doing this reading I realized I was also thinking about the Congressional Medal of Freedom. In my mind they can get mixed up very easily. So I decided I would study up on them both and share the results with you dear readers and “lovers of liberty”. That’s a little humor for my fellow “Scandal” fans.
Before I compare these two monumental honors I wanted to see what if any other medals from Congress that can be bestowed to civilians and the military alike.
Officially these are the awards that Congress and the President are authorized to give: Congressional Award, Congressional Gold Medal, Medal of Honor, Presidential Citizens Medal, and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
I will only be breaking down the two I mentioned earlier as that’s where the majority of my interests lie. For those who want to dig in a little further I have provided several informative links below.
According to the federal government, the Congressional Medal of Honor is the highest tribute that can be given to a member of the military. The President usually passes out the award, which is technically from Congress. The medal represents honor, bravery, and valor for the recipient’s behavior during battle. Commanders nominate their man or woman and then it goes to the Department of Defense for review. Those who win this prestigious medal also win a thousand dollar monthly pension and certain military base liberties.
As for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, that comes straight from the President. Unlike the Congressional Medal of Honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom is for civilians only. It is like these two awards are exact opposites of one another.
It was President Kennedy that changed the trajectory of this award directing that its use be to acknowledge those who have made contributions to our society, mostly in the arts. Surprisingly enough there are two types of this medal. If you win the Presidential Medal Freedom With Distinction you are really the bees knees. This Distinction is usually the result of a winner’s project or accomplished being closely related to that particular President’s causes. These individuals are from all walks of life and can work in just about any field such as journalism, public service, and sports. Better yet it can be granted posthumously so you really always stand a chance of winning someday.
In 2015 Gloria Estefan (also her husband) and Barbra Streisand were lucky enough to receive this honor from President Obama, while they are still alive nonetheless!
If you do not know who these women are or how much they have altered our world for the better I recommend you see “On Your Feet” a Broadway show about the Estefan’s lives. Also you can Netflix “Yentl” Ms. Streisand’s piece de resistance.
Gloria Estefan explains the hardest part of building her career, as told to NPR's Rachel Martin in 2013:
"They would say you're too American for the Latins; you're too Latin for the Americans; lose the drums; lose the percussion; change your name," Estefan said. "And the fact that we had this fresh, different sound, and that we stuck to it, is the reason we had success. So, we were very happy that we were our own cheerleaders."
Barbra Streisand forged a long road ahead while beginning her singing career as well but was always looking ahead:
"You reach a certain age and you wonder, well, do I give it up? Do I retire? Or do I get more in before my time is up?" she asks. "I could just travel around the world. But then I think I'd get bored and I'd need to create. I need to be creative, and time is going so fast."
Indeed time flies when you living the life you imagine.
Ironically I just finished reading a book about Justice Ginsburg, “Notorious RBG The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg”, last night. I had no idea I would be writing about the law/government today. But now the connection seems clear.
When thinking of a nominee for award based on one’s moral, creative, and life changing abilities, there seems no more appropriate woman in my mind than RBG. She has built a life by working hard everyday from the ground up breaking through the glass ceiling for herself and those that would follow. She had the family she wanted with the love of her life and a career anyone would envy. To borrow from Frank Sinatra, “RBG did it her way” and succeeded no matter what stood in her way.
Living a life of significant meaning to oneself and the world are certainly medal worthy achievements. It is something we should all strive towards whether or not there is a ceremony waiting for us at the end.
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