LOCAL NEWS

Senator Orrin Hatch Honored With Presidential Medal Of Freedom

Nov 16, 2018, 8:47 PM | Updated: 8:55 pm

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Retiring US Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump for his over four decades of public service.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest honor the nation reserves for a civilian.

One of the longest-serving Republican senators in U.S. history, Hatch is retiring in January after more than 40 years. Trump called Hatch a “great friend of mine” who “liked me right from the beginning, and therefore I like him.”

”I’m really humbled to receive this award,” Hatch, 84, told KSL in an interview after the ceremony.

Hatch thanked the citizens of Utah for supporting him during his more than four decades of service in the Senate. He also said it was a tremendous honor to get the award from President Trump.

“I like this president. He’s a straightforward, straight-shooting guy. He gets himself into trouble once in a while but his heart is a good heart,” Hatch said.

Hatch also said a highlight for him was to have his wife, Elaine, and six children attending the ceremony in the East Room of the White House.

“When you have your family there, you kind of get tears in your eyes and you start to realize, that there are things that are more important than almost anything else,” he said.

Individuals who make “outstanding contributions to American life and culture” have received the medal, Trump said, adding that it was his “true privilege” to present it to Hatch, another five men and one woman representing the fields of entertainment, sports, law, medicine, politics and philanthropy.

 

Dr. Miriam Adelson

Miriam Adelson is a doctor, philanthropist and wife of Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate considered one of the nation’s most powerful Republican donors. The Adelsons donated $30 million to Trump’s campaign in the final months of the 2016 race. They followed up by donating $100 million to the Republican Party for last week’s midterm elections.

Trump says Miriam Adelson is “somebody who’s worked so hard. Doesn’t have to do it, but she does, 24 hours a day, this is what she does.”

“Through decades of innovative research, philanthropy and treatment, Miriam has helped thousands break free from their addiction to drugs and alcohol,” Trump said. “I know the work you’ve done, and you have been truly incredible.”

Miriam Adelson is an Israeli-born, naturalized U.S. citizen who earned a medical degree from Tel Aviv University and founded drug abuse treatment and research centers in Las Vegas and Tel Aviv. She and her husband own the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Israel Hayom newspapers.

The Adelsons are also avid supporters of Israel. Trump noted how “very happy” they were that he moved the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Miriam Adelson said she was, “deeply humbled and moved by this exceptional honor.”

“Liberty is at the heart of my decades of work against substance abuse. Drug dependency is enslavement, for the user and his or her family and society, and treatment an emancipation,” she said in a statement Thursday.

Former NFL Players

Retired Minnesota Supreme Court justice Alan Page, who played with the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears before transitioning to a career in law, and Roger Staubach, the Hall of Fame quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys, were also honored.

Elvis, Babe Ruth & Justice Scalia

Posthumous honors were given to Elvis Presley, baseball’s Babe Ruth and Antonin Scalia, the conservative Supreme Court justice. Six of the nine justices currently serving on the U.S. Supreme Court, including newest member Brett Kavanaugh, attended the White House ceremony.

Trump said Ruth and Presley were “true legends” whose legacies will live on forever.

Some questioned Trump’s decision to recognize Miriam Adelson so soon after the Nov. 6 election.

Robert Weissman, president of the public interest group Public Citizen, said the decision was “emblematic of the corrupt and transactional presidency of Donald Trump.”

But Elliott Abrams, who held foreign policy positions under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, called the complaints “ridiculous.”

Abrams noted that Miriam Adelson has donated her time and money to combatting addiction. He contrasted her award with those given by President Barack Obama to Chita Rivera, Robert De Niro, Barbra Streisand, Ellen DeGeneres and Warren Buffett, among others.

“People who said nothing about all of that and now criticize the medal for Dr. Adelson are simply being nasty and partisan, and are not actually taking a look at her remarkable knowledge and charity in the chemical addiction field,” Abrams said.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said Trump used the process previous administrations followed to select his nominees. It was coordinated by the staff secretary’s office, incorporating recommendations from the public, relevant presidential advisory bodies, the Cabinet and senior White House staff.

Presidents have total discretion over whom they honor with a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The award is given to individuals “who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

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Senator Orrin Hatch Honored With Presidential Medal Of Freedom