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Germany

Chancellor Merkel to be given America's highest civilian honor

US President Barack Obama has chosen German Chancellor Angela Merkel as one of several recipients of the Medal of Freedom, the highest honor an American president can award a to a civilian.

The Medal of Freedom

The award is for contributions to security, peace and culture

The White House announced on Wednesday that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was one of 15 honorees who would receive the United States Medal of Freedom. The press release noted that Merkel was the first woman and first East German to become chancellor of Germany and that she had "often said that freedom is the happiest experience of her life."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel

Merkel is the first chancellor from the former East Germany

The white star on a red and gold background and hung from a dark blue band is the highest honor that can be awarded to a civilian by the US. According to the White House it's given to people who "have made especially meritorious contributions to the security of national interests to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."

The chancellor and the other 14 recipients are to be awarded their Medals of Freedom at the beginning of next year. US President Obama said in a statement that he looked forward to presenting them with the medal.

"These outstanding honorees come from a broad range of backgrounds and they've excelled in a broad range of fields," he said, "but all of them have lived extraordinary lives that have inspired us, enriched our culture, and made our country and our world a better place.

Bush Senior makes the list too

Joining Merkel on the list is former US President George H.W. Bush, the father of Obama's predecessor President George W. Bush, as well as mega-investor and philanthropist Warren Buffet, poet Maya Angelou and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Holocaust survivor Gerda Weissmann Klein will also be honored for "dedicating her life to promoting tolerance and understanding among all people."

Former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl is a previous recipient of the Medal of Freedom, along with former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, the first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, and the former South African President Nelson Mandela.

Author: Christina Bergmann / hf
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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