Two Long Islanders Receive Presidential Medal of Freedom


Two Long Islanders – Sandra Lindsay and Father Alexander Karloutsos – received the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony by US President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday.

Lindsay, a nurse at Northwell Health, headquartered in New Hyde Park, was honored for becoming the first American to receive an approved COVID-19 vaccine and for her continued advocacy for public health equity. Karloutsos – or Father Alex, as he is known – of Southampton has been honored for his role as a priest on the council of US presidents for the past 50 years.

The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to individuals who have made exceptionally meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, and significant cultural or other endeavours. public or private.

Lindsay and Karloutsos were among the 17 who received the honor. Others include Denzel Washington, Simone Biles, Fred Gray and Steve Jobs.

“The week of July 4 reminds us of what brought us together long ago and still binds us — binds us together best, what we seek,” Biden said at the ceremony. “We the people are doing what we can to ensure that the idea of ​​America, the cause of freedom, shines like the sun to light the future of the world. It is the soul of our nation. That’s who we are as Americans.

“At 18, Sandra Lindsay immigrated from Jamaica to Queens, NY to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse,” Biden said. “During the height of the pandemic, she poured her heart into helping patients fight for their lives and keeping fellow nurses safe. And when the time came, she was the first American to be fully vaccinated outside of clinical trials. »

The president went on to say, “Sandra, as I told you before, if there are angels in heaven, they are all nurses. Sandra’s vaccination card, gowns and badge are part of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History’s exhibit on COVID-19 and today she is receiving our nation’s highest civilian honor.

In honoring Karloutsos, Biden said, “For more than 50 years, your leadership in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has meant to every prelate in the Greek church,” according to Religion News Service.

“A man of deep moral clarity and calling, you have counseled generations of presidents and parishioners with unparalleled humility and grace.” Biden said.

Those recognized have made “awe-inspiring achievements in the arts and sciences, dedicated their lives to advocating for the most vulnerable among us, and acted bravely to drive change in their communities – and across the world – while paving the way for generations to come”. according to a statement from the White House.

“During the pandemic, while working with my fellow nurses and frontline colleagues, we have been waiting for that ray of hope – a vaccine – to keep us going. It was an honor to raise my hand and volunteer to take the vaccine,” Lindsay said in a statement via Northwell Health. “I am beyond grateful to President Biden for recognizing this momentous day and my continued efforts to end vaccine hesitancy and promote healthcare for all, no matter where you live, who you are or where you live. color of your skin.”

“That’s what they call incredible grace,” Karloutsos said in an interview with Religion News Service. “You don’t think that when you’re on duty you should be honored for something you would have done naturally anyway.”


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