They were a diverse group, indeed: from the late farm-worker organizer Cesar Chavez to professor and former congresswoman Barbara Jordan to retiring House Minority Leader Robert Michel (R-Ill.). Noting the accomplishments of each recipient, the president then fastened the medal around the honoree's neck in a near embrace. In the case of Dorothy Height, president of the National Council of Negro Women since 1957, he actually did indulge in a hug.
It would be fair to say that Robert Sargent "Sarge" Shriver - honored for his leadership in the Peace Corps as well as for chairing the Special Olympics, had the loudest and most populous peanut gallery. His daughter Maria Shriver and her husband, Arnold Schwarzenegger, sat side by side, along with brother-in-law Sen. Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy gang.
When Shriver got his medal, the group jumped to its feet, whooping and hollering as if at a prep school commencement. They've had practice at this event: Shriver's wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, was awarded the medal in 1984 by President [Ronald Reagan] for founding the Special Olympics and for her work with disadvantaged children.
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